Game Recap/Notes: First Round, Game 4. Raptors 98 - Wizards 106. (Series tied 2-2)

What have you all gotten me into.

 

Box score.

 

Kyle Lowry:

For his part, Lowry played pretty well. 19 points on 15 shots with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and a pair of steals in 39 minutes. But there does remain a certain passivity to his game on offense so far in this series that is a bit worrying. In the end though, his offense has been fine to good, I mostly would like to see him have a game where he really is aggressive and asserts himself I suppose. The bigger issue is with John Wall. Wall is a uniquely bad matchup for Lowry and the Raptors, because Lowry is a high-level defender and a not small amount of what the Raptors do on defense relies on him being a plus defender. Against the speed and size of Wall Lowry suddenly has to be almost treated as a minus defender, often being hidden on a wing player and often offering minimal resistance to Wall when he covers him. This was, quite frankly, my biggest worry coming into the series and it has been a big problem. Still, Lowry had a pretty good game.

 

DeMar DeRozan:

DeRozan really got his in a big way, the problem is that he had to do a ton of work to get his. His 35 points required 37 shot equivalents (14-18 at the line!!) to score and he shot just 10-29 overall from the field. He did add on 6 assists and 6 rebounds, but those 6 assists are against 4 turnovers. To be clear, I don't think DeRozan had a bad game, the Raptors had very little else going for them on offense in this game and sometimes you have to be willing to just be a volume scorer. But I would guess that the Wizards will take DeRozan scoring at a clip of less than 1 point per possession regardless of how many he ends up pouring in.

 

OG Anunoby:

Played 22 minutes, scored 4 points on 3 shots. One thing, I think that perhaps, until Freddy comes back at least, they should maybe think about actually playing Anunoby starter minutes. I know it has been normal operating procedure to play the bench guys more, it has generally been Delon Wright in this series and Wright has been really good. But I think Anunoby has really played solid ball, even if he got 3 fouls in those 22 minutes. Maybe see what it looks like to have him in the closing group.

 

Serge Ibaka:

Ouch. Serge had a great game 1, not so good since. Yesterday he scored just 7 points on as many shot equivalents with 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 turnovers in 34 minutes. That is quite bad. The Wizards have changed up their defensive strategy a bit to lessen the damage of the secondary guys, but he has to produce a bit more than this.

 

Jonas Valanciunas:

Only played 15 minutes and he got 3 fouls in that time. Still though, 11 points on 7 equivalents with 3 rebounds and a block. He also had 3 turnovers which is, bad. I know all of the reasons to not play him more, especially against a team like the Wizards, but I am officially joining the group of people who think maybe let JV play a bit more. He has killed smaller teams at times in his career, maybe see if he could be unleashed against one of the Wizards small-ball groups and wreck havoc.

 

Delon Wright:

7 points on 7 shots with 5 assists and a massive block on John Wall in 27 minutes. He has essentially filled the role of being the honorary 5th starter in this series and he has mostly responded well. I've been impressed with how he has held up defensively against John Wall, he obviously hasn't held him in check but he's still been ok.

 

Jakob Poeltl:

Got the lions share of minutes at center with 24, scored 10 points with 7 rebounds. It was nice to see him perk up a bit after being straight booty in the first 3 games but I still feel like he is really struggling defensively in this series.

 

CJ Miles:

You know the drill here. Did he hit a bunch of 3s? He went 0-3 and hit 1 two pointer and finished with 2 points. So no, he didn't hit a bunch of 3s. That means it was a bad game.

 

Pascal Siakam:

Bit of an up and down series for Siakam. He had a couple of nice moments on both ends in this game, but 3 points on 4 shots with 3 rebounds and 3 blocks is a fine line for 18 minutes.

 

General:

John Wall is a demon. The Wizards are better than your typical 8th seed, but Wall remains the reason they were scary before the series. The same reason why, even if they were not decimated by injuires, the Celtics and anyone else should worry about the Bucks with Giannis, and why everyone should be worried about the Pelicans with Anthony Davis. Very often the team with the best player wins the playoff series, John Wall is very capable of being the best player in this series and any other, same with Giannis and Davis. So even if they are lower seeds, they are still scary.

The Raptors get to go back home which should help, but there is no way around it. This loss stings and is a real problem. If they had held on to win then everything would be largely on track. Close games because the Wizards are better than most 8 seeds, and the Wizards won game 3 with a great effort, but the Raptors would still be up 3-1 heading back home. I'm still pretty confident the Raptors will win the series, but this game should send real worry signals to everyone.

A thing beyond Wall (and Beal) is that the Wizards have tweaked their game plan in a positive direction I think. They started off overplaying Lowry and DeRozan to make other people beat them, they have shifted that the other way now which I think they should've done from the start. Lowry and DeRozan are good, but John Wall is a terror on defense to keep Lowry in check. The reality is that the Wizards may be the team best equipped with long-armed defenders to make DeRozan work hard for points in the entire league as well.

 

 

What do you think? Should Anunoby and/or JV get more playing time? Should DeRozan be less aggressive?

Opponent Scouting: Round 2. Cleveland Cavaliers. (Beat Pacers 4-3 in round 1)

Opponent Scouting: Washington Bullets. Round 1, Game 4. (Raptors lead 2-1)