The old narrative says, “A playoff series doesn’t truly begin until the home team loses on their floor,” so when will the Raptors and Wizards series get off and running? For starters, the Wizards need to take action now rather than hoping for more “home cooking” in Game 6 and then trying to win a pivotal Game 7 in Toronto. The Wizards seem to be figuring out what the Raptors want to do to them defensively, and coach Scott Brooks has made the adjustments from the opening two games and found a way to even the series with a dynamic offensive attack.
John Wall and Bradley Beal combine for 58 points to tie the Wizards and Raptors 2-2!
Toronto blew a 14-point lead, tied for the 2nd-largest blown lead in Raptors franchise postseason history. Their 18 4th quarter points are their fewest in any quarter this series. pic.twitter.com/etQD0AckMv
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 23, 2018
What will Washington need to do differently this time in Toronto? First of all, they have to avoid starting out the game slow, as the rowdy Raptors crowd can easily take over the momentum of the contest from the beginning. Looking back to the Wizards’ semifinals game five matchup against the Boston Celtics in 2017, they opened the first quarter down 12 points, and found themselves down by 16 at the half. That simply won’t cut it against a Toronto team that is hungry to prove why they are the #1 seed in the East and have figured out how to make amends to past playoff failures.
Another key factor for the Wizards to take game five is for them to try and get Otto Porter Jr. more involved in the offense, as he has averaged just slightly over 10 points per game in the four games played thus far. These totals are down from his 2017-2018 season average of 14.7 PPG (highest in his career). Porter Jr. has always been at his best when he is able to catch and shoot, and Toronto has limited these looks at this point in the series. John Wall and Bradley Beal will need to continue to stretch the Raptor defense in order to create more opportunities for #22.
Otto Porter + catch and shoot = Ottomatic pic.twitter.com/ztWd6vCUme
— Hoop District 💎 (@HoopDistrictDC) April 21, 2018
The final factor the Wizards need to account for in this critical game five is to put a full-blown effort into winning this contest at any cost. Whether this means that Scott Brooks has to stretch the starters’ minutes longer than normal, or tinker with bench rotations so that there is no drop-off from the first unit; now is the time to bring everything that they have at the Raptors. The Wizards have won two games in a row, but they need to continue their positive momentum early and act as if this is a true elimination game in order to gain the upper hand in the series.
Prediction: Wizards 114 – Raptors 109
Photo Credit: NBC Sports