If the playoffs started today, the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors would be matched up in the first round. With that said, the Wizards have been thoroughly outplayed by the Raptors this season and it continued tonight in Washington.
Washington’s interior defense hasn’t been great this season, and the Raptors’ bigs took advantage early on. Toronto scored 60 points in the paint and their front court of Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson got whatever they wanted inside. Marcin Gortat had a good game offensively, scoring 18 points to go along side 11 rebounds, but Valanciunas manhandled him inside. Valanciunas and Johnson scored a combined 24 points on 11-15 shooting from the field.
Once Toronto’s big men got it going down low, their guards started taking advantage as well. Kyle Lowry broke down Washington’s defense, putting up 24 points and 10 assists in 35 minutes of action. Washington initially forced him to take some bad jump shots at the start of the game, but he eventually created space and got some easy baskets off penetration. Greivis Vasquez sliced Washington’s defense up off the bench with 14 points and 7 assists. Bradley Beal couldn’t stay in front of him and the help defense was often too late.
John Wall got little to no help offensively, but he did have a decent game from an individual standpoint. He scored 22 points and dished out 7 assists, and carried the Wizards for much of the first half. He got it going early on, scoring 11 points in the first quarter, all of which came from mid-range. Wall did all he could tonight, but it’s impossible for the Wizards to win when he gets no help from either Bradley Beal or Trevor Ariza. Beal and Ariza shot a combined 4-18 from the field.
The Raptors are just a really bad match up for the Wizards. Their big men have constantly taken advantage of Washington’s inconsistent interior defense, while John Wall is forced to carry them offensively while trying to contain Kyle Lowry on the defensive side of the floor. Randy Wittman was ejected in the fourth quarter, which sparked Washington, but it was all too late at that point. The game had already spiraled out of control in the third quarter and it would’ve taken a complete collapse from the Raptors for the Wizards to complete the comeback. Washington hasn’t gotten any help from their bench this season, and the offense has plummeted as soon as Wall steps off the floor. I admire Garrett Temple’s defense, but the Wizards need a guard who can contribute on the offensive side of the floor when Wall gets the occasional breather.
I wouldn’t be too discouraged about tonight’s loss, considering that the Wizards have the easiest schedule remaining in the league, at least by winning percentage. They’ll have a good shot at getting back on the winning track tomorrow night against the Atlanta Hawks.