That was embarrassing. Coming off a Game 1 stinker on Saturday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors – down 0-1 in the series – entered tonight’s matchup facing a must win, after already losing home-court advantage in this first round. Long story short, they lost. They lost pretty badly. The Washington Wizards emerged victorious, winning 117-106. 11 points doesn’t look that bad, but trust me, it was. The Raptors teased everyone with another decent start, only to falter in the middle two quarters once again (they got outscored 71-44!). By the time the fourth quarter began, it was too late. I’m not even in the mood to reach for a better Drake pun. And as if the loss itself isn’t bad enough, Kyle Lowry tweaked his leg late in the game and was in no condition to return. Just an ugly outing all around for the men in white.
Let me get the positives out of the way. DeMar DeRozan was strong early on (nine points in the first quarter, before finishing with 20, going 9 for 18 from the field), Patrick Patterson provided a spark off the bench (15 points, perfect 6 for 6), James Johnson actually played, and the Raptors got to the charity stripe 32 times (although they only converted 21). That’s about it. The middle quarters of this game were atrocious. Credit needs to be given to the Wizards— they really dug in defensively and made the Raptors uncomfortable following the hot start from the field. Toronto didn’t adjust, after before we could blink twice, the Raptors – who led by five after the opening frame – were down 60-49 at halftime.
It got even worse in the third. After cutting the Wizards lead to just two points, the Raptors couldn’t get over the hump. Washington called a timeout, and then proceeded to go on a run that dictated the remainder of the game. As a result of the momentum shift, the Raptors seemed to panic, and elected to go back to iso-ball that wasn’t working very well. Toronto had 19 assists as a team. Perspective: John Wall had 17 assists on his own. The ball wasn’t moving, and the Wizards defense cracked down. The wheels fell off. The #WeTheFourth days are long gone, but something tells me that not even those fourth quarter runs would’ve been enough. It was that ugly. That wasn’t even the worst part though…
I don’t even know if “F-” is a real grade, but you get the point. I’m thinking of a witty reference to explain how bad the defense was, but none of the ones I’m coming up with are adequate enough to tell the story of Toronto’s performance on this end of the floor. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened: Bradley Beal‘s off-ball movement was exquisite (he had 28 points on 12 for 21 shooting), John Wall looked like an all-time great (dropping 26 points to go along with 17 dimes), and the Wizards guards were penetrating the painted area so easily that it looked like practice versus pylons in some instances. My goodness, the Wizards even went 10 for 21 from beyond the arc. Nothing was going right. The Raptors rotations were awful. The team just looked lethargic. There enough easy baskets for Washington to make would could’ve been a really fun drinking game.
Lowry struggled as the Washington guards continuously moved without the ball, causing the Raptors guard to run through a fair share of screens, almost always playing catch-up. Lowry tried to combat this by gambling with his perimeter defense, and he was unsuccessful in his efforts. He found himself in foul trouble pretty early, making it even more difficult to find his mojo. Don’t even get me started on Greivis Vasquez. GV looked like he was in quicksand all night long. Way too disengaged. In a game where the Raptors needed him to step up due to Lowry’s foul issues, he came up short. Very short.
45-28. Washington dominated Toronto on the glass once again. In the rare moments when the Raptors actually played defense, the Wizards’ offensive boards broke the collective backs of the Raptors. Again. Sure, Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 10 rebounds, but when the entire team only has 28, there’s a problem. There’s not much more to say.
Game Ball – John Wall
Raptors down 0-2 in the series. They head to Washington for the next two games. Either we’re in for a miracle, or the end is nigh.