Open Thread: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors, Regular Season Game 16

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The Essentials:

Wizards (5-10) vs. Raptors (7-11)
7 p.m.
Air Canada Center
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable Raptors numbers this season

23rd in expected winning percentage (.362)
11th in pace (93.5 possessions per game)
3rd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (112.2)
30th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (116.9)

Notable Raptors numbers last season

23rd in expected winning percentage (.403)
14th in pace (92 possessions per game)
22nd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (107)
22nd in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (110)

Pre-game links

Raptors HQ, SB Nation's Toronto Raptors blog
Raptors Republic, Toronto Raptors blog
Doug Smith's Toronto Raptors blog (Toronto Star)
TSN's Court Surfing with several awesome Canadian writers
Holly Mackenzie: Shootaround notes: Raptors vs. Wizards
Raptors Republic game preview
Raptors HQ game preview
GameDay Toronto

Tonight's Projected Starters
Wizards vs. Raptors
Gilbert Arenas
PG Jose Calderon
Nick Young
SG DeMar Derozan
Caron Butler
SF Hedo Turkoglu
Antawn Jamison
PF Chris Bosh
Brendan Haywood
C Andrea Bargnani


Tonight's game between the Wizards and the Raptors is essentially a battle between the two most disappointing teams in the East.  Toronto is 7-11 and has lost three in a row (and seven of nine), all by wide margins. 

How is Toronto doing it?  With an unbelievably unbalanced attack.  I wrote on a few weeks ago about how the Raptors were at one point simultaneously the league's best offensive team and worst defensive team.  That hasn't held true, as the offense has fallen to just third in the league, but somehow, the defense has gotten even worse.  I mean, 116.9 points per 100 possessions is just pitiful.  For comparison's sake, the Wizards have been above 117 points per 100 possessions just twice this season (wins over New Jersey and Cleveland).  Washington's offense is struggling, but that's still a pretty pitiful stat.

So if you had tonight's game in your "when do the Wizards and Gilbert Arenas officially break out offensively" pool, you've made a good bet.  Jose Calderon in particular is really struggling on both ends of the court, so this is a good time for Gilbert to get aggressive and make plays.

The problem, of course, is that Toronto's offense poses so many problems for the Wizards.  Brendan Haywood always owns the glass against Toronto, but he is never able to guard Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani on the perimeter.  Antawn Jamison can't really guard either guy - Bosh is too strong for him, while Bargnani is too tricky.  Hedo Turkoglu poses interesting problems for Caron Butler, though the good news is that Turkoglu's not the type of guy who can hurt you when he doesn't have the ball.  Off the bench, Amir Johnson comes in with a lot of energy, while Jarret Jack always hurts us. 

The bottom line is that tonight's game and Friday's game promise to be two of the most entertaining games we'll see all season.  I imagine there will be a lot of bitching about how three-point shooters are open on both sides, and I only caution people to remember that Toronto does that even to the league's best defenses.  I plan on sitting back, enjoying the display and hoping that nobody tries to throw the ball up in the air with time still left on the clock.

Other things I'm looking forward to:

  • Bosh in general.  He's been a terror all season and it's been a joy to watch.  Hopefully, he shines in defeat, not in victory.
  • The USC matchup at shooting guard between Nick Young and Toronto's exciting rookie, DeMar DeRozan.
  • Earl Boykins coming in and running circles around Toronto's small guards.
  • Antoine Wright bricking shot after shot after shot.
  • Beautiful offense, on both sides. 
  • Mike James' revenge (even if he doesn't play)


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