Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Raptors will be hosting the Washington Wizards in game 2 of the first round. It has been two days since game one so both teams have that much rest.
The Wizards are the same team as last time out obviously. It will be interesting to see how they adjust following the game 1 loss. Bradley Beal was largely held in check, John Wall struggled to finish at the rim, and the Wizards overplayed Lowry and DeRozan. The Wizards wanted to make the non-all-stars beat them and those guys did just that. The Wizards may double-down on that strategy or they may adjust.
Matchups to watch:
Raptors vs. Bradley Beal: Beal has been a Raptors killer all season, but they managed to largely keep him under wraps in game 1 as he scored 19 points in 41 minutes. There is a good chance that Beal breaks out in at least one of these games which would be trouble for the Raptors, but if they can repeat game 1's performance then they should be in good shape.
John Wall vs. Finishing at the rim: Remember how I said that Wall hasn't quite been himself? All those misses at the rim is the sort of thing I was talking about. A big part of that was good Raptors defense, but if Wall starts to finish better it will change the way this series looks. The important thing is that the Raptors continue to contest at the rim to make sure he doesn't have an easy time, if he starts finishing tough shots then tip your cap.
DeRozan vs. Asserting himself a bit: There is nothing abjectly wrong with how DeRozan played in game 1. He largely took what the defense gave him and he ended up with 17 points and 6 assists which is not a bad line. That said, I would like him to force the issue just a bit more and force the Wizards to adjust to him instead of the other way around. Be the hammer not the nail.
The other guys vs. Continuing to come through: Serge Ibaka, Delon Wright, OG Anunoby, and CJ Miles all were in double-figures in game 1. If the Wizards stick with their strategy of overplaying Lowry and DeRozan then these other guys will have to keep it up, because if they go cold then the Raptors could be in trouble.
Raptors vs. Defensive integrity: I thought that the Raptors had a great defensive disposition all of game 1. The Wizards managed to do stuff at various times, allowing 36 points in the second quarter isn't great, but the Raptors were on their game. If they play defense like that then the Wizards will have a very tough time getting any wins in this series.
Raptors vs. Continuing to put the past behind: Getting their first ever game 1 victory was a big step. I think that a sweep would put to bed a lot of the mental worries with this group, so go get it and prove to everyone that this team is different.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Bradley Beal is just kind of invisible again.
The Wizards are struggling to top 25 points per quarter.
DeRozan asserts himself and starts to pile on some points.
Run for the hills if:
Beal gets loose.
Wall starts to finish at the rim.
The secondary guys go cold for the Raptors.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
The Wizards keep with their original strategy.
Secondary guys come through for the Raptors again.
Bradley Beal has a big game.
The Raptors win a close game by overcoming Bradley Beal's many points with another great team effort.
Raptors 112 – Wizards 110.
What do you think? Can the Raptors defend again? Can they contain Bradley Beal?