The Wizards stole Game 1 in Toronto after a resilient effort to fend off the Raptors’ comeback attempts in the 4th quarter and overtime. There were several game-defining moments that preserved Washington’s chance to win; here are the biggest ones.
1. Seraphin’s pass to Gooden.
Although the Wizards underachieved a little this season, what hasn’t been lost is the value of Ernie Grunfeld’s signings this past summer. The front court was beefed up with Kris Humphries and DeJaun Blair, so admittedly didn’t expect much from Kevin Seraphin. He’d been trending down for some time.
Fast forward to Game 1 of the playoffs and Kevin is logging quality minutes over the aforementioned guys. In this play, he shows some solid footwork and a rare pass out of the post to a cutting Drew Gooden.
2. Coast-to-coast Ramon.
When the Wizards moved Richard Pryor Andre Miller at the trade deadline, management made it clear that speed was a deciding factor. For all of good assets of Miller’s game (great court vision, post ability, special discounts on Icy Hot, etc), he simply couldn’t stay in front of several reserve point guards in the East.
You can call Ramon a journeyman, but you can’t question his quickness and ability to get to the basket. In this play, he goes coast to coast for a nice layup over Jonas Valanciunas. Could our last comedy headliner back-up pull that off?
3. NO JONAS. NO NO NO NO NO.
I don’t think anyone will call the Wizards’ Game 1 win a thing of beauty. Both teams shot under 40% from the floor and under 30% from three point range. Washington’s starting backcourt had an extremely high usage rate (especially Beal) and everyone looked like they were playing with heavy legs as overtime started.
But let’s not undervalue Washington’s team defense, which was remarkable. In addition to the trapping on Demar Derozan, the Wizards’ interior defense was solid, too. Here’s Drew Gooden re-discovering his Jayhawk athleticism and sending away a Jonas Valanciunas finish at the rim. #DemOldKnees
4. Lowry fouls Out; Beal waves him goodbye.
Let’s be clear: 6-23 from the field is bad. Those are Ricky Davis numbers. That’s what your dad shoots when he’s wearing Adidas flip flops and he’s done on the grill.
That line will improve in Game 2, without a doubt, but this field goal was one of the most pivotal of the game. Here, Brad catches Kyle Lowry overcommitting on defense, gets off a quick shot, and draws a foul. And it’s not just any foul – it’s the one that sent Kyle to the bench, disqualified, with a lowly 7 points. To cap it off, Brad waves goodbye to Lowry, sending a somber Drake unreleased song blaring through the Air Canada Centre speakers.
5. Paul hitting 3’s.
So, Masai Ujiri and the city of Toronto had some fun at Paul Pierce’s expense before Game 1. There was some Photoshop work in a local newspaper; Masai cursed on the mic (again) in front of the god awfully-named Jurassic Park; fans heckled Paul – typical.
But guess what? None of it mattered. Here, you’ll see Paul hitting one of his 4 three-pointers. Nearly all of his shots were heavily contested, but again, it didn’t matter. Paul went 7-10 from the floor and 4-7 from beyond the arc. His regular season is incidental to what he was brought to Washington for: playoff basketball.
“The North” doesn’t matter. Masai’s 17 foot wide tie knots don’t matter.