Apr 3, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) defends against Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Washington 88-78. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)

After winning two straight games, the Wizards are finally back on the winning track and will have a chance to continue their streak tonight in Toronto against the Raptors, who are leading their division. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Air Canada Centre.

Key Match Up:

Players that make their money scoring the ball have undoubtedly gotten the most recognition from the media, but the opposite could be said for Raptors forward Rudy Gay. Although Gay has averaged 18 points per game for his entire career, his inefficient scoring has made him infamous among NBA pundits and his horrendous shooting hasn’t gotten any better this season. Gay was dealt to Toronto from the Memphis Grizzlies under a different Raptors management regime, making it impossible for him to escape the rumor mill. His shooting percentages have been sporadic this season, but he’s currently shooting just 38% from the floor in 12 games. Although he’s definitely a volume shooter, Gay does possess the ability and potential to become an NBA star which makes him a threat on a nightly basis.

Washington has to contain Rudy Gay and it could be done if they keep him from attacking the basket. Gay is shooting under 40% near the basket, but he’s athletic enough to create some real problems for the Wizards’ big men. Martell Webster isn’t a bad defender, but at 6’8″, Gay will have a significant strength advantage over Webster so it’ll be tough for him to stop penetration to the basket. With that said, once Gay does beat Webster off the dribble, Washington’s big men have to do a better job in rotating help defense. Rudy Gay hasn’t been great this season, but he’s still talented enough to win games for his improved team.

Notes:

  • The Raptors are the worst three point shooting team in the NBA, according to stats.NBA.COM.
  • DeMar DeRozan is averaging 33 points in the past three games for Toronto. He’s also shooting 50% from beyond the three point arc in those games. Those numbers are probably unsustainable, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t continue shooting that well tonight.
  • Trevor Ariza probably won’t be available tonight, but Al Harrington will likely remain a game time decision.

Prediction:

The Wizards have looked like a playoff team these past few games, and they need to continue playing at this level if they truly want to make the post season. Despite leading the Atlantic Division, the Raptors aren’t a great basketball team. Toronto is solid, but I think the Wizards have enough firepower to get their third straight victory tonight.

John Wall has to remain aggressive, especially against Kyle Lowry who’s a much smaller defender. If Washington’s back court continues to play like they’ve been playing the past few games, the Wizards should pick up another ‘W’.

Tags: Martell Webster Nba Game Preview Rudy Gay Washington Wizards Wizards Raptors

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