home 2015-16, Blogs, Game Coverage Wizards vs. Raptors Pregame: Maybe The Wizards Should Just Win

Wizards vs. Raptors Pregame: Maybe The Wizards Should Just Win

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Toronto at Washington

January 8, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

December 30, 2015 – Air Canada Centre, Toronto: Raptors 94, Wizards 91
READ: Game Notebook 30, Wizards at Raptors: Out-Clawed In Canada

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What to watch

Another shot at an inter-conference rival and hopefully not another submission to them. The Wizards began the season as viable conference contenders but as of 33 games in, they have been no more than mere impostors. No testament to this is bigger than their performances against their adversaries of the East. Early-season wins against Cleveland and Miami were cool, and it’s nice that they own the keys to the Epcot Center in Orlando (who is no real contender anyway), but the Wizards have shit the bed six different times against the top dawgs of the East, including twice against their Canadian opponents whom they face tonight. Mind you that this doesn’t even count the losses to Boston and New York, two teams who are over .500 in the East and could potentially be in the playoffs.

The Wizards have lost six straight regular season games to the Raptors dating back to last season. Their two losses this season were by a combined total of just 5 points, with both of them coming by way of late-game blunders. Here’s a quick summary of the Wizards’ last minute demise in Toronto just over a week ago via Irfan K:

“The Wizards refused to go easily, summoning bursts of life whenever the Raptors let up. But every time the Wizards would get close, the Raptors would once again step on their throat. The Wizards were able to cut it to one in the final minute on a Jared Dudley three. After two Kyle Lowry free throws, the Wizards summoned one final, frenetic hope, getting three good looks to tie the game. But as each clanged off the rim, and Wall’s final attempt was blocked, the buzzer sounded on a loss that was much closer than it felt.

The Wizards final surge was valiant, but the wounds they suffered throughout the game proved deadly. The Wizards were outrebounded 55 to 44, and 15 to 8 on the offensive glass. And when the Raptors weren’t getting their own boards, they were drawing fouls, getting in the penalty early, and attacking the basket, leading to 39 free throw attempts for the game, compared to just 17 for Washington.”

We’re nearly at the halfway mark of the season, and if the Wizards are serious about putting themselves on the Eastern map, they need to begin destroying those that are already on it. My pal Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net made a valid point regarding Wall’s All-Star status now that the decision for him to be voted in is in the hands of the coaches:

“Maybe the Wizards should just win.” Amen to that.


Key Matchup

John Wall vs. Kyle Lowry

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What a week for John Wall. After serving as the sole catalyst for any sort of team success by torching his opponents during the month of December, a bit of exhaustion might have started to catch up with Wall here in the new year. A stellar performance against the Magic on New Year’s Day was followed up by a 6-21 shooting night against the Heat and a 7-turnover game against the Cavs. And worse yet, his friendly rival in Kyrie Irving – whose fan votes to the All-Star Game was called a ‘joke’ by Wall – also happened to get the best of him and the Wizards with that insane 4th quarter performance.

Tonight Wall faces – in much less of a joking manner – his All-Star backcourt mate from a year ago in Kyle Lowry. In mu pregame entry from last week, I praised Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as possibly the best backcourt duo in the East and rightfully so. But while Lowry is averaging 20.6 points and 6.5 assists per game with a PER of 23.0, he was less of a factor on December 30th against Wall and the Wizards. Lowry went cold from the field, missing 10 of his 12 shot attempts and committed six turnovers. While Wall maybe a bit dejected from the work overload, he simply cannot let up now, and especially not in the face of spotlight matchups like the one tonight.


X-factor(s)

The Raptors frontcourt. Bismack Biyambo has been an absolute savage dating back to mid-December. His averages over the past 12 games prove it:

Minutes: 26.4
Points: 6.6
Rebounds: 11.4
Off. rebounds: 3.5

During this stretch, Bismack went on a tear on the boards, with six straight games of 12 or more rebounds including one game with 18 and another with 20. Against the Wizards last week, Biyambo assaulted the glass with five offensive rebounds and 12 total in just 27 minutes.

Jonas Valucianas has also come on strong for the Raptors and especially in the last 4 games where he’s averaged 12 and 10 and shooting over 50% from the field.


Fun factor

These goofs:


Prediction

Maybe the Wizards should just win, and to help simmer my anxiety, I am going to convince myself that they will tonight by making it my official prediction in this segment.

we are Hoop District

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