Searching for a Split: Wizards’ Key to Upsetting Raptors in Game 2
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto finally got rid of the ghost. After finally, finally, FINALLY winning a Game 1 of a playoff series Saturday, this is how Raptors fans feel about their series vs. the Wizards.
The Raptors opened at -8 for Game 2, but the line has since moved down to -6.5 behind heavy sharp action on the Wizards.
It makes sense: The Wizards held a lead at halftime and deep into the third quarter. They got great performances from Markieff Morris (22-11-6 on 9-of-15 shooting), and Mike Scott (14 points on 7-of-10 shooting). They held DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to 10-of-26 shooting, though the two got loose in the second half.
Washington’s issues were with the role players. Considering all of the conversation this year about the Raptors’ depth and versatility, it’s amazing that Washington seemed caught off guard by what the Raptors players not named DeRozan and Lowry could do. I wrote about Delon Wright’s impact Saturday, but another youngster did a lot of damage for Toronto: OG Anunoby.
From the get-go, Anunoby’s length and athleticism helped. He switches here, and even after Lowry tells him to stay over to help deter the drive, he recovers to the other side to contest this 3-pointer.
Anunoby is fast enough that when Ian Mahinmi tries to snag him here with a screen he winds up committing an offensive foul.
The Wizards just routinely did not pay much attention to Anunoby. They were scrambled in transition in the clip below, and so worried about DeRozan and Lowry that they just leave Anunoby wide open in the corner:
This isn’t talked about enough: DeRozan and Lowry became so much more willing to trust the young guys this year. This is a home playoff game they called “a Game 7,” and they’re out there trusting Wright and Anunoby. That’s huge. They put guys in a position to step up, and the youngsters delivered.
Meanwhile, Markieff Morris (who had a great game) just completely abandons coverage of Anunoby, who slides right in front of him. Again, the Wizards were clearly just trying to load up on DeRozan instead of focusing on balance and assignments.
The Wizards were not as locked in as they needed to be in Game 1. If they make that adjustment, they have a good chance of stealing the split. Washington’s mindset was one of a team on its heels all day Saturday, which is a change from how it has approached series in the past as the aggressors. But the Wizards showed up expecting to be able to handle it, and the Raptors hit back hard.
Toronto’s 16 made 3-pointers were a franchise record for the playoffs. Anunoby and Wright went 5-of-8 from deep. If the Wizards don’t catch up to how this Raptors team isn’t the same one they beat four years ago, it could get away from them.
Top photo: The Raptors’ OG Anunoby and the Wizards’ John Wall.