Where and When:
The Washington Wizards take on the Toronto Raptors Friday night at 8:00 PM at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN 2, with local coverage coming from CSN Washington for the D.C. market and TSN for Toronto.
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Garrett Temple is out with an injured hamstring for the Wizards. Kyle Lowry dealt with a shin contusion injury and left Game 2 late in the fourth quarter, but fully practiced today and announced he will play in Game 3.
Storylines for Game 3:
1. Will the House of Guards continue their strong play?
Game 1 was disappointing for both John Wall and Bradley Beal, who struggled all night offensively. They shot a combined 27% from the field despite taking nearly half of Washington's shots, only to be bailed out by the clutch play of Paul Pierce and the rest of the Wizards. Game 2 however, was a completely different story. Wall had one of the best games of his career with 26 points and a whopping 17 assists (a franchise playoff record), while Bradley Beal aggressively drove to the rim all night and chipped in 28 points of his own.
Toronto will be playing desperate tonight, so Washington will need its two brightest stars to have a repeat performance to hold them off. A little more trolling from Paul Pierce would go a long way too.
2. Can Randy Wittman win at home?
We've all heard the stat at this point. The much maligned Randy Wittman is now 7-1 in road playoff games, which is the best record for a coach in his first 8 playoff games in league history. On the other side of the coin is a stat that isn't as popular: Randy Wittman is 1-4 at home in the playoffs. Last postseason that wasn't too surprising, Washington went 22-19 at home, which was the worst home record for any team in the playoffs last year. Somewhat interestingly Washington was 22-19 on the road as well, which was enough to tie for the best road record in the Eastern Conference. So the fact that Wittman struggled at home while thriving in hostile environments during the playoffs was indicative of Washington's play during the regular season.
This year the script has been flipped. The Wizards are a much more respectable 29-12 at home, while they now struggle on the road with a 17-24 record. It remains to be seen if Wittman can have success in a postseason Phone Booth, but it would do wonders for his job security if he does.
3. Will our fans represent the Wizards the same way Toronto did for the Raptors?
While the Toronto Raptors have not played inspired basketball these past two games, you couldn't put any of the blame on their crowd. The Air Canada Centre was ah-rockin' and they made their presence known throughout the contests:
If you're going to the game Friday, GET LOUD! We can't let Toronto's fans outclass us. Give John Wall and the Wizards the home-court advantage they deserve.