Raptors vs Wizards

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The Washington Wizards stumbled into the postseason, losing five of their last six games, but were competitive in their first game against the conference’s No. 1 seed, the Toronto Raptors. Though the Wizards lost, 114-106, they didn’t back down on the road, trading leads through much of Game 1. Tuesday’s Game 2 ought to be fun.

John Wall missed all four regular-season matchups with the Raptors this season, which the teams split, 2-2, but he was back in playoff form in Game 1. Wall paced the Wizards with 23 points and 15 assists. In three regular-season games against the Raptors in 2016-17, Wall feasted, averaging 25 points, 10.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds with .473/.308/.826 shooting splits.

On Friday, the league suspended Wizards sharpshooter Jodie Meeks for 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA-National Basketball Players Association anti-drug program, meaning he will be ineligible for postseason play.

Here’s all the information you need to follow this first-round series. This post will be updated with results and news throughout.

Though the Raptors emerged from Game 1 with a welcome win, they’ll need to remain defensively vigilant when John Wall is on the floor. The Wizards point guard wasn’t great in the opener, needing 20 field-goal attempts to get his 23 points, and his 15 assists came attached to five turnovers. But Wall’s ability to blow by Kyle Lowry and put pressure on the Raptors defense promises to be a problem — one that needs to be balanced by a tidier performance that Lowry offered in Game 1, wherein he coughed up five turnovers on his 11-point, nine-assist night.

The problem is, Washington just doesn’t have many good options for guarding Ibaka. Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi are liabilities if he takes them out to the perimeter, and Jason Smith isn’t much better. Morris is the best fit one-on-one, but his pick-and-roll coverage isn’t always on point, and there isn’t enough rim protection behind him to clean up mistakes.

It might be worth experimenting with someone smaller like Scott or Porter who can deny passing lanes better, but then you’re inviting him to take it to the block where he has a size advantage. He hasn’t done a lot posting up this season, but when he has, he’s been effective.

Washington will need to figure out something because when Ibaka has it going, the Raptors are hard to beat. Toronto is 16-2 this season when he scores at least 17 points, including Saturday’s win.

Though the Raptors emerged from Game 1 with a welcome win, they’ll need to remain defensively vigilant when John Wall is on the floor. The Wizards point guard wasn’t great in the opener, needing 20 field-goal attempts to get his 23 points, and his 15 assists came attached to five turnovers. But Wall’s ability to blow by Kyle Lowry and put pressure on the Raptors defense promises to be a problem — one that needs to be balanced by a tidier performance that Lowry offered in Game 1, wherein he coughed up five turnovers on his 11-point, nine-assist night.

Lowry, who insisted he would approach Game 1 “like a Game 7,” is sticking with the philosophy. “Game 2 is another Game 7 for us — the way we’ve gotta play,” Lowry said Monday … Raptors coach Dwane Casey was asked if starting power forward Serge Ibaka is known as a good talker on defense. “In what language?” Casey quipped. In the wake of his 23-point, 12-rebound performance in Game 1, Ibaka answered questions from the media in English, French, and Spanish. Ibaka also speaks Lingala, which is spoken in his native Republic of the Congo.

Before a rollicking home crowd that made goal celebrations feel like an “earthquake in your feet,” Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs cut the Bruins’ series lead in half with an emphatic win when they really need it at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night, Bruce Arthur writes.

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