That's why they brought him here.
Paul Pierce? Of course, but how about Otto Porter?
The slight, tepid small forward who would occasionally would show flashes of brilliance is taking his game, and his team, to a new level in the 2015 playoffs. The player who was more likely to appear on Shaqtin a fool than the top ten highlight real has turned into the ultimate glue guy in these NBA playoffs. Deflecting passes, blocking shots, tipping out rebounds and bugging the shit out of DeMar DeRozan; Otto Porter has been a difference maker for the Wizards throughout these 3 games against the Raptors.
Otto Porter, fringe rotation player, was a thing not that long ago.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 25, 2015
Even as we got used to Otto's understated contributions to the Wizards during this playoff runs, who expected the latest iteration of Otto Porter to morph into a new form against Toronto... Big Shot Bubba.
After Terrence Ross tied the game at 88 with a bit under 4 and a half minutes left in the fourth, Porter responded with a three of his own off of a John Wall pick-and-pop play that gave the Wizards some much needed breathing room.
A couple of possessions later after the Raptors had cut the Wizards lead to two, Porter came through with another big shot to keep them at arms length. Spotting up from nearly the same spot as the previous make, Porter caught a John Wall pass in rhythm and buried another three to give the Wizards a 95-90 advantage. While this wasn't the end to the drama (these are still the Wizards after all) the Raptors would be playing a couple of possessions behind for most of the remainder of the game.
Porter's stat line, while solid at 11 points and 8 rebounds, doesn't capture just how important he's been to the Wizards in this series. After DeRozan scorched the Wizards for 20 points in the first quarter, it was Porter's long limbs and disciplined defense that made the rest of DeRozan's night miserable. After hitting 8 of 11 shots in the first quarter, DeRozan would go just 3 of 18 the rest of the way.
Porter was in his space, in his face and apparently in his head. After blocking a DeRozan shot from behind, he gave DeRozan a brief but noticeable staredown, provoking DeRozan to shove him and earn a technical foul. It was a play unthinkable just a few months ago, but characteristic of the confidence, perhaps even swagger that Porter has been playing with through these playoffs.
Wizards still punking Raptors. Otto Porter has been a destroyer. Finally DeRozan pushes back. Still no Hayes or J Johnson, toughest Raptors.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) April 25, 2015
It's not been lost on his teammates or coaches. "He's growing up before our eyes," Drew Gooden said, echoing a common phrase one hears around the Wizards locker room about the second year forward. "A 6'9" guy on the wing, trying to get thin on screens...that's not hard to do for Otto...not sticking on the screens, and when he gets a one on one matchup with someone like DeRozan he's doing a great job of finding his way and making him shoot a contested shot. He's doing a phenomenal job for us."
Welp. Otto Porter has a bigger net differential than D-Rose in the playoffs. Wizards 32.8 p/100 better with Porter on. Hot damn.— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) April 25, 2015
"He's playing like a veteran today. Marcin Gortat said, "I am excited for Otto. He was waiting the whole season to play like that."
Perhaps no Wizard was as pleased for Otto than the man who he has backed up and learned from all season. Paul Pierce, who just a short time ago was quoted questioning "how badly he (Porter) wants it everyday," had no questions on this evening:
" You saw him in the last three weeks of the season. He got extended minutes and I think his confidence has really grown. I think he is tired of me getting on him too. I constantly stay in Otto's ear, pushing him, trying to get him to be the best that he can be and he's responding. He is starting to play with a little more fire and that's all we've been wanting from Otto."
And it wasn't just Wizards players and coaches that were singing Otto Porter's praises. Raptors guard and Maryland alum Greivis Vasquez was similarly impressed. "He has been the difference. Vazquez remarked. "He is one of those players that is making his name in the playoffs. He is doing a great job just not being afraid of making shots and going against our best players so credit to the guy."
For Porter, who spoke of growing up and wanting to be on this stage, spoke after the game with confidence and ease about his role
One subject he didn't have much to say on? That block and staredown of Demar DeRozan.
"That's playoff basketball" Porter responded when asked about it. "Just good defense" he simply said, moving on to the next question.