Wizards at Raptors: Game Time, Key Match Up, Notes and Prediction

Feb 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) holds the ball as Toronto Raptors power forward Amir Johnson (15) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Raptors won 103-93. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards are looking to win their fifth straight game tonight on the road, but they’re also looking to avoid a season sweep against the Toronto Raptors. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Air Canada Centre.

Key Match Up:

Bradley Beal’s role on the team has definitely increased with Nene being sidelined to injury, but he’s responded well so far. Beal is coming off a 21-point performance against the Orlando Magic and he’s really mixed it up well offensively since Nene went out. Instead of constantly settling for jump shots like we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Beal, he’s starting to get more comfortable with putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket. Once he starts finishing around the basket, he’s virtually impossible to stop.

With that said, he’ll be faced with a tough task in defending All-Star guard, DeMar DeRozan. Although Kyle Lowry could probably be credited for helping the Raptors turn their fortunes around, DeRozan is also having a breakout season and was well deserving of the All-Star recognition. He’s developed well under the Raptors–adding a jump shot to his already deadly offensive arsenal. Though he’s probably most effective when attacking the basket, DeRozan also has a tendency to fall in love with his jump shot. He’s improved his perimeter game, but Beal will have to force him into taking some bad shots if the Wizards want to get the upset victory tonight. DeRozan is as explosive as they come and I’m sure Bradley Beal will live with any tough perimeter shots DeRozan knocks down.

Notes:

  • Kevin Seraphin didn’t participate in shoot around and that’s usually an indication that he won’t play. Drew Gooden was signed on a 10-day contract, and I’d expect him to get some playing time tonight. Washington also opted to play some small ball against the Magic, but I’m not sure if that will work against Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas.
  • The Raptors are top 10 in both offense and defense in terms of efficiency. Yikes.
  • Toronto is also a top-10 offensive rebounding team.

Prediction:

Wizards games have been almost impossible to predict, so I won’t completely count them out tonight, but I just don’t see them beating the Raptors. They’ve already dropped three games to the Raptors this season, and they’ll have an even tougher time without Nene in the lineup.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have to play some outstanding basketball tonight for the Wizards to stay competitive. Toronto has been playing great since trading Rudy Gay, and their backcourt–Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan–could be credited for helping turn their season around. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas have always given the Wizards trouble, and I’m not sure if Marcin Gortat could do it by himself, especially since Trevor Booker is an undersized forward.

Washington is going to need a great shooting game, but I don’t see them beating the Raptors tonight.

Topics: Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, John Wall, Nba Preview, Washington Wizards, Wizards At Raptors

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  • Mootsko

    Thats Salmons defending Beal, not Amir Johnson