Lyndie Wood: Toronto has to lose Game 1. It’s tradition.
Raptors in 5 would not shock me though. Toronto is good. The Wizards shouldn’t get cocky because of the 2015 playoffs. Lowry was hurt, DeRozan wasn’t as good, the team played a totally different style of offense, and they didn’t have all the Super Kids on the bench.
The Wizards have a fighting chance, but it will be difficult.
Marcus Atkinson Sr.: I don’t like this matchup for the Wizards at all. Toronto’s depth will be the deciding factor. Teams don’t usually go deep in the playoffs, but Toronto doesn’t necessarily have to shorten their rotation that much because their bench is such an asset. The Raptors had the fourth-highest scoring bench in the NBA and are able to maintain their high level of play even when DeRozan and Lowry are not on the floor.
I’m curious how the Wizards will try to counteract their deficiencies on defense. We know they will shorten their rotation, but the question is can you find a combination of players off the bench who can sustain a good defensive effort and keep the ball movement going that has made their offense successful at times this season. My guess is if the Wizards don’t get consistent productivity out of the like of Mike Scott, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tomas Satoransky and Ian Mahinmi then they are toast. I think they will give them a fight, but I don’t think this team has shown enough consistency to beat a team like the Raptors. Raptors in 6.
Alan Jenkins: There’s no way the Wizards look past the Raptors because they think they’re ‘above’ them, right? Right?!?!?!
Toronto is too talented, too deep, and has really improved defensively this year. Washington, trying to be a flip the switch team has forgotten one thing; flip the switch teams can always lock in defensively and the Wizards have regressed on the defensive end since Brooks took over.
Washington has oddly enough, always been a solid road playoff team but haven’t been so great at home. Toronto has to lose Game 1 because that’s the rule, so expect a series where the road team wins more games than the home team. But.........Raptors in 6.
Michael Sykes: We’ve seen how this team plays and we know how they think. They respect the Raptors, certainly, but they clearly believe they’re on the same level playing field as them and they’re not. The Wizards played half their season without John Wall and didn’t have their All-Star for all four matchups against Toronto, so there are reasons for hope, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in that. Raptors in 5, probably. I just need them to avoid a sweep so I can still pop these 2015 jokes off.
Quinten Rosborough: The Raptors haven’t won a Game 1 in 17 years, and I don’t think that changes this series. I also think the Wizards can win one of their two home games, so give me Raptors in 6. As everyone else has said, Toronto’s bench has been really effective this year, but they’ll likely be going up against the Wizards’ starters, which I think limits their effectiveness.
Scotty B’s gotta realize two things for the Wizards to have a shot here:
- Two of Wall, Beal and Sato need to be on the court at all times.
- When it inevitably comes down to late-game isolation ball, give the ball to Markieff Morris. He (sadly) might be the only guy on the roster who can create his own look.
Nick Bilka: As much as some like to harp on the fact that the Wizards swept the Raptors in the 2015 playoffs, and it’s true, the Wizards did sweep the Raptors 4-0 in the 2015 playoffs, these aren’t the 2015 Wizards or 2015 Raptors. The Wizards’ frontline has declined since that season and probably doesn’t have a Pierce at the 4 type trick to suddenly fix it.
Lost in all the talk of John Wall and Paul Pierce in that series was just how dominant Marcin Gortat was against the Raptors. He averaged 17/10/3/2 on 74 percent shooting from the field. The Wizards can’t expect a repeat of that with a 34-year-old Gortat. The Raptors have added a bevy of younger bigs since 2015, including Serge Ibaka (who, in his ninth season is still younger than any playable big on Washington’s roster). They have upgraded with young wings and ball handling guards as well.
Beal and Porter have improved considerably since the teams last played each other, but so has DeMar DeRozan. We also have to assume that a healthy Kyle Lowry is an improvement over the one the Wizards saw in 2015.
A supernova performance by John Wall may be able to make up some of the difference, but it’s too much to expect that from him after only playing four games since the start of February. Raptors in 5.
Matthew Gilpin: Toronto is better than Washington in every facet of the game. They play harder, they’re coached better, they shoot better, and they play better defense. Washington’s only shot in this series is if John Wall and Bradley Beal both go off at least four times while Lowry and DeRozan choke.
I expect Valanciunas and Ibaka to bully Gortat and Morris in the paint and I wouldn’t be shocked if Mahinmi ends up playing more minutes in this series than Gortat does. Another important matchup will be the backup point guards in Tomas Satoransky and Delon Wright. Washington will need Sato to outplay Wright basically every night and that is far from a given. I don’t see the Wizards pulling this one out, and honestly I see it worse than everyone else. As much as I hate to say it, I’m gonna miss the 2015 sweep jokes. Raptors in 4.
Albert Lee: This Wizards team doesn’t have the mentality or discipline to keep its minor skirmishes (Wall vs. Gortat) behind closed doors. They talk about not getting respect and then fail to back it up with solid play by beating teams they should beat and holding onto late leads against other playoff teams. I liked Everybody Eats while it lasted, but yeah, the mentality of this team just isn’t there right now. Raptors in 4.
Matt Silich: This series is going to test Dwane Casey’s stated commitment to playing his bench big minutes, even in the playoffs. A rested, balanced Toronto team that continues to maximize its newfound movement-oriented style would likely make quick work of the weary, wayward Wizards. But I can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation in thinking this will all be that easy for the Raptors -- it hasn’t ever been easy before, even against teams with less talent than this Washington crew.
Wall and Beal are historically much better playoff performers than Lowry and DeRozan. Otto, if reasonably healthy, is better than any Raptors wing by a country mile. Markieff’s battering-ram aesthetic adapts pretty well to the playoffs, and Marcin can step up his game with Wall in the lineup. Washington’s starters will need to kill Toronto’s starters for the Wizards to compete, but that doesn’t seem impossible-- the Wizards hung with the Raptors in all four games this season, posting a 2-2 record despite the absence of Wall.
Considering only this season, sensible people will take the Raptors in five games or fewer. But taking into account all the baggage and all the history of these teams, plus the Wizards having nothing to lose and loving a challenge... it’s hard for me to imagine this series not lasting into late April. Toronto has been outstanding, but I need to see it to believe it. Raptors in a nail-biting 7 games.
Trey Flynn: If Washington can take Game 1, I would expect a conversation change in the NBA at large. It’s up to John to play like he did against Cleveland and Boston and hopefully expose Kyle Lowry, which seems to be pretty easy in the playoffs. DeRozan and Beal will cancel each other out, Porter and Kief can switch between OG and Ibaka, Gortat is pretty much an older Jonas V.
As for depth, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, and C.J. Miles can blow up on the Wizards at any point. However, I like Washington’s chances to slow them down with Satoransky and Oubre’s defensive abilities
Jake Whitacre: With all due respect to Bill Parcells, you aren’t always what your record says you are. The Wizards are not your standard eight seed. They were one botched game in Orlando away from being a seven seed. They were another half-dozen botched games against bad teams away from being much higher up. Oh, and John Wall was either injured or playing hurt for three-fourths of the season. Treating the Wizards like a typical eight seed does them a big disservice.
Toronto isn’t your typical one seed either. They’ve had an incredible season and deserve all the accolades they’ve gotten this season, but there are good reasons why people think they could have issues in this series and in the second round against the Cavaliers if they get there. They’ve underperformed more than once in the playoffs and their best players have struggled against playoff defenses.
This series is much closer than the seeds would suggest. If Washington plays their cards correctly, an upset is entirely possible. However, I’ve seen them squander too many opportunities this season to trust them to get it done. Raptors in 7.