The Wizards got off to a bad start quite literally from the tip. Marcin Gortat was called for a foul on Jonas Valanciunas on the opening jump ball, and picked up his second foul less than three minutes later. Then, Ian Mahinmi entered the game and picked up two fouls in under three minutes as well. Halfway through the first quarter, the Wizards were down by nine and had neither of their primary centers.
Things could have gotten chaotic quickly, but the Wizards’ oft-maligned frontcourt pairing of Markieff Morris and Mike Scott stopped the bleeding and got the Wizards back on track. They combined to score 21 points in the first half on 10-of-14 shooting, which helped Washington keep the game close.
Washington’s starters asserted control when they re-entered the game in the second quarter. They ripped off a 13-0 run to take a lead to take the lead for the first time in the game and held it for the rest of the half as they suffocated the Raptors’ offense and took a four point lead going into halftime.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who combined to take only eight shots in the first half, got going to start the third quarter. They both hit threes as part of an 11-2 run to open the quarter and get back on top, but the Wizards would let them get away. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter all made big shots to thwart Raptor runs and turn the game into a back-and-forth battle for the rest of the quarter.
The Wizards’ bench made some shots early in the fourth quarter to take a three point lead, but the tide of the game changed when Mike Scott was called for a Flagrant 1 foul against Kyle Lowry on a fast break. Lowry hit the free throw and then Delon Wright hit a layup on the ensuing possession to put the Raptors up by one.
Wright kept the momentum going, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors’ bench pulled far enough away from Washington to put the game out of reach. Toronto outscored Washington 42-21 in bench points, even though Fred VanVleet, their top reserve, missed the game. Washington is going to need to get more from their bench, or use them a whole lot less moving forward if they want to take advantage of the good contributions they got from their starters.
John Wall does all the right things with all the wrong results
This was quite the odd game for Wall. He had 23 points and 15 assists, as well as four steals and a pair of blocks. He even hit three 3-pointers for good measure. This wasn’t some hollow, stat-padding game. He made a real difference with his activity and aggression on both ends.
The problem was, he wasn’t efficient shooting the ball, but not in the way you’d expect. His outside shot was falling, and he didn’t settle for the pullup jumpers in the midrange that have sabotaged his efficiency all season. He got to the rim all game long but he could. not. finish. His shot chart says it all:
You can argue Wall got hosed on some no-calls at the rim, but he also missed a lot of shots around the rim he normally makes. Some of that is bad luck, but also give some credit to the Raptors’ defense. They limited opponents to the second-lowest field goal percentage within five feet of the rim this season. Dialing the aggression back just a smidge might pay some dividends in Game 2, just as long as he doesn’t fall into the trap of settling for unnecessary jumpers.
Oubre and Satoransky struggle to produce
Even if Scott Brooks goes down to an eight-man rotation moving forward, you have to figure Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky will have to be part of it to have any shot at giving the starters rest. If so, they have to do a lot better than they did in this game.
They combined to go 1-of-7 from the field and both had their struggles on defense. Oubre was too aggressive, Satoransky wasn’t aggressive enough. They’ll need to get past their jitters to keep the Raptors’ bench from dominating again.
- Markieff Morris hurt his ankle late in the game. He played through it, but that’s one of those issues that will likely be more of an issue tomorrow once it swells up. He’s no stranger to playing through ankle issues in the playoffs (just look at last season in the playoffs against the Celtics), but you have to hope it doesn’t limit him too much. He played very well in this one. He finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 0 turnovers.
- For whatever it’s worth: The Wizards chose to put Ramon Sessions on the inactive list instead of newcomer Ty Lawson. Lawson didn’t get any playing time, but it’s interesting to see Washington has enough faith in him already to put him in front of someone who has been with the team longer.
- All in all, the Wizards had the right idea in defending the Raptors’ starters. They forced Lowry and DeRozan into miserable shooting performances, kept Valanciunas in check after a hot start, and dared OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka to beat them from outside. The latter two wound up going a combined 5-of-8 on threes, but you can live with that, especially considering Lowry and DeRozan only went 3-of-9 from deep.