After finishing their three game home stand at 1-2, the Raptors head back out on the road for a five game swing that gets underway tonight in Washington. Both the Wizards and Raptors will be playing the second game of a back-to-back, with both teams coming off losses in their previous game. Toronto will look to take advantage of a struggling Wizards team and get a rare road victory.
Coming into tonight’s game Toronto is 5-14 this season on the road. Washington has 10 wins this season, 10-27, with all 10 wins coming at home. The Raptors will need to correct a few things that they were unable to do last night against the Pistons to have a chance at a win tonight.
First, the Raptors allowed a poor offensive team – the Pistons – to get whatever they wanted in the first half because they were playing without energy. Toronto cannot come out flat again tonight in Washington. They need to use their defence to energize them, which lead them to easier offence. I know – wishful thinking.
Second, someone on the bench has to step up and score for the second unit. Washington is not a deep team, and when the second units are in, someone on the Raptors has to be able to get points. Last night, no one outside of Bargnani was really consistent on offence. If Barbosa is going to miss some time with a hamstring injury then Bayless has to look to score, and provide some of the scoring that Barbosa brings off the bench.
Lastly, the Raptors have to be involved from the get go. Toronto is not a great team and they cannot take nights or even quarters off and expect to be able to come back. The Wizards are struggling but they will absolutely beat the Raptors if they are not ready to play.
As far as the Wizards go, John Wall is the guy they need to slow down first. He makes everything go for them but he is yet to find consistency on his jump shot. Nick Young, a guy who always plays well against Toronto, has been starting and likes to shoot the three. Rashard Lewis has played ok since the trade with Orlando, but he can shoot and the Raptors will have to be aware of where he is on the floor.
Andray Blatche missed last night’s game with a shoulder injury. If he cannot play tonight, the Wizards will really not have anyone who can score in the post. The Raptors could also take advantage of that by posting up their own big men and look to score inside. Toronto should look to attack the basket, especially DeRozan, because outside of McGee there aren’t shot blockers on this Washington team.
This game will come down to who wants it more. Whichever team plays with the most energy and maintains their focus throughout the game will come away with the win. Let’s hope that can be the Raptors.
Tip-off is at 7:00 pm EST.