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#TakeTheNorth: Can the Wizards beat the Raptors

The Washington Wizards travel north to take on the Toronto Raptors in what's their biggest test in the early stages of the season. Can they pass it?

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

This one may not be on national television, but it's way more essential for the Wizards to win tonight than it was on Wednesday. The Raptors had Washington's number last season (3-1, with the only Wizards win in triple overtime) and they look pretty good this year too. With both teams coming in at 4-1, winning this game could go a long way in playoff seeding at the end of the year.

Game Time: Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The game will be televised on CSN.

Injuries: Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson both missed Wednesday's game for the Raptors against the Boston Celtics. Johnson missed action with an ankle injury and Valanciunas had a hand and a nose injury. They will be game-time decisions tonight.

Bradley Beal is still out with his wrist injury and Martell Webster is still out of action with his back injury.

All you need to know about the Raptors: The Raptors are sitting pretty at 4-1 and are the leaders of the Atlantic division. Their lone loss came against the Miami Heat, who were red hot at the time and needed to make plays late to close the Raptors out. All this despite Johnson and Valanciunas missing time.

This team is a very, very good one. Offensively, they have been much better than advertised, ranking fourth in offensive efficiency with 113.2 points per 100 possessions. Defensively, they aren't yet at the top 10 level they were last season but have been missing key cogs in Valanciunas and Johnson. They rank 19th in defensive efficiency and are allowing 106.7 points per 100 possessions, but are outscoring teams by so much it doesn't matter.

The Raptors don't do anything too special offensively. They just don't turn the ball over and capitalize on their possessions. Via John Schuhmann of, the Raptors opponents have committed twice as many turnovers as they have throughout the season.

Kyle Lowry has only turned the ball over twice this season, according to Schuhmann, and he has touched the ball 426 times in 171 minutes. He leads the NBA with a 213:2 touch to turnover ratio. Yes, you should be impressed.

Keys to the game: Obviously, the Wizards' biggest strength is their defense. They are currently seventh in defensive efficiency and are only allowing 100.3 points per 100 possessions.

They are going to need to leave their fingerprints all over this game on the defensive end if they want to win. That means holding DeMar DeRozan in check and forcing Lowry into places he is uncomfortable. Lowry did not play particularly well in their last game against the Wizards last season. If Washington does that again, it can pull off another win.

They also need to make sure they don't give up offensive rebounds to the Raptors, who have not been a particularly good rebounding team this season. This is something the Wizards have struggled with this year, though. They can't afford to give Toronto any extra possessions.

Will the Wizards win?: The Wizards have been a very flawed team so far this season. They have had issues rebounding the ball, taking care of it and have struggled to keep the bench afloat.

This Raptors team is very good offensively, but they are flawed as well. They only rebound 71 percent of the available defensive rebounds and are on of the lower ranking defensive teams in the league. Those are two things the Wizards can capitalize on tonight.

This game is very important and could impact seeding at the end of the season. Washington knows the implications this game could have, plus they should want to get the bad taste out of their mouths from losing the season series last year. I expect them to come out with a win tonight in their biggest game of the season.