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Key Takeaways from Wizards-Raptors Game 1

The scene was set. The building was loud. The players were ready. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round between the Wizards and Raptors has come and gone, and just like last year’s first round, our boys leave a hostile opposing playoff crowd victorious.

Here are three key takeaways from the win.

PAUL PIERCE TALKS THE TALK, THEN PROMPTLY WALKS THE WALK.

After all, is this not why he is here!? As I noted in our series preview, one of the things that was largely anticipated heading into the postseason was the acquisition of Pierce finally coming to real fruition. Finally getting to witness his savvy veteranship and championship experience help carry this Wizards team to new postseason heights. And Game 1 was a great start.

Pierce offered us a succulent appetizer to the playoff drama when he called out the Raptors for lacking the ‘it’ factor. While many questioned what ‘it’ really entails, Pierce explained it to us via his own performance amid blaring “Fuck Paul Pierce” AND “Paul Pierce sucks” chants coming from the Canadian crowd. After a sluggish 0-2 start, Pierce erupted in the 2nd quarter for 10 points on 4-4 shooting including two 3’s. In the overtime period, Pierce scored five of the team’s 11, finishing with 20 on 7-10 shooting. Pierce also trolled the Raptors and their fans when he was laid out flat by a Jonas Valucianas screen, forcing him to clench his shoulder in pain while walking to the bench, only to return immediately to the game and knock down another jumper. I’d call him a dick if he were an opposing player.

A vintage playoff performance is all we’ve been yearning for since the news of Pierce’s acquisition, and he gloriously gave it to us in no better setting than the opening road game in a hostile playoff atmosphere. In the end, our smiles match Pierce’s.

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STRUGGLING HOUSE OF GUARDS

Eh. This was about as bad of a shooting performance by John Wall as we’ve seen in a long time. He was 5-18 from the field including a vomit-inducing 0-9 on shots from 12 feet or longer. After a quiet debut performance in the playoffs last year, the expectations for Wall to break out this season are fairly high and I’m not quite sure this was the kind of game we were expecting. But despite Wall’s poor shooting, his pace and game management were legit. With eight assists and only one turnover, Wall remained in control of the game; just nobody could hit a shot. Plenty of missed assists in this one.

For Wall to have better outings, he needs to take less jump shots, and get more drives to the rim, just like so:

Bradley Beal also had an atrocious stat line in terms of shooting but the eye test results happen to offer a bit more light when assessing his game. We noticed as the season winded down Beal’s pleasantly developing habit of aggressiveness and the minimization of settling for long jumpers- at least a little bit. In Game 1, Beal felt right at home again in the playoffs, putting the ball on the floor, enforcing himself down the lane, and tenaciously pursuing the rim. Beal also attempted seven 3’s, albeit making just one, however, he attempted seven 3’s, helping clear up two grand areas of concern for him offensively.

[Side note]: Bradley Beal drawing Kyle Lowry’s 6th foul, while acrobatically knocking down the jumper, then promptly waving Lowry goodbye was everything. #PlayoffPanda is my favorite #Panda.


THE OVERTIME DOMINANCE

The Wizards’ performance in the overtime period was steered by their dominance on the offensive glass and their defense practically shutting out the Raptors from scoring. Toronto finally scored their first points with under 30 seconds left on the clock and by then, the game was more or less out of reach with the Wizards up seven. Credit every bit of that to the Wizards defense, who locked in on their man and forced tough shot after tough shot after tough shot. Lou Williams finally simmered back down to Lou Williams, DeMar Derozan was cuffed by Otto Porter, and Greivis Vasquez — man f*ck Greivis Vasquez.

The Wizards’ battle of the boards in overtime was basically a microcosm of their rebounding numbers all game. They tallied a total of 19 total offensive rebounds, most of them coming by way of long range misses. While they managed to botch a ton of those second chance opportunities in regulation, in the overtime period, the Wizards were not only able to capitalize on a few those same opportunities by scoring, but they were able to use it against the clock, until the Raptors finally flatlined.

And what better than to see Otto Porter push the Raptors to the very brink, calmly sinking this floater and putting the Wizards out of reach. Porter finished with a decent stat line: 5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

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