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Wizards vs. Raptors Game 6 preview: Washington tries to save their season at home

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Facing a 3-2 deficit, John Wall and the Wizards will try to extend this series to a decisive Game 7.

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards
It’s time to protect home court once again.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After going cold late and dropping Game 5, the Wizards will come home to play the Raptors in Game 6 of their first-round series on Friday night.

Game Info

Date and time: Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

TV/Streaming: NBC Sports Washington will air the game locally, while ESPNNews and NBA TV will have the game elsewhere in the United States. In Canada, will air the game.

Injuries: For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet is questionable due to his ongoing shoulder injury. He was listed as questionable in Game 5 but did not play. For the Wizards, Jodie Meeks remains suspended. Scott Brooks also noted on Thursday that Otto Porter is “banged up.”

Keys to the Game

Can the Wizards close?

After Ty Lawson soared for an offensive rebound and dished to Kelly Oubre for an and-one dunk, Washington led the Raptors 87-82 with just 8:52 left in the fourth quarter. By the time the clock hit zero though, the Raptors had 108 points — and the Wizards just 98.

As the lead slipped away down the stretch, Washington reverted to bad habits that have plagued the team for years now.

Role players and stars alike went completely cold from the field. Tired from playing the entire second half, John Wall failed to provide his trademark bail-out drives and impact defensive plays. Guards were erased by Jonas Valanciunas screens on defense, and Bradley Beal and the Wizards’ shooters were mired in the same predictable off-ball muck that we’ve seen a million times.

The Wizards closed out Game 4 with fire and intensity, so it’s not like this team doesn’t have the capability. Perhaps with a few rotation adjustments (please, please get Wall some rest), they can do so again on Friday.

Can anybody stop apparent future Hall of Fame inductee Jonas Valanciunas?

One other critical thing happened after that fateful Oubre and-one extended the Wizards’ final lead: Jonas Valanciunas came into the game for his first fourth-quarter action since March.

And he was fantastic. Gortat has gotten the better of him at times during the series, but Valanciunas put on a show in the final few minutes. He did all the little things — a couple of back-breaking offensive rebounds, some monster screens and strong rim protection — and some big things too.

The truly crushing moment was a steal of Wall that seemed to defy the limitations of space and time for a plodding seven-footer.

When DeRozan and Lowry faded again toward the end of Game 5, Valanciunas and Delon Wright put the team on their backs to secure the win. In Game 6, with their backs now fully pressed against the wall, the Wizards have no choice but to match that effort.