Here’s all the information you need to follow this first-round series. This post will be updated with results and news throughout.
- Wizards’ season leaders: Points (Bradley Beal, 22.6), assists (John Wall, 9.6), rebounds (Marcin Gortat, 7.6), steals (Otto Porter Jr., 1.5), blocks (Wall, 1.1); Washington injuries: Mike Scott (day-to-day); Jodie Meeks (suspended)
- Raptors’ season leaders: Points (DeMar DeRozan, 23.0), assists (Kyle Lowry, 6.9), rebounds (Jonas Valanciunas, 8.6), steals (Lowry, 1.1), blocks (Serge Ibaka, 1.3); Toronto injuries: Fred VanVleet (day-to-day)
>> If the Wizards can win the last two games, they’ll become just the sixth No. 8 seed in NBA history to beat a No. 1 seed and advance to the second round. Only one other No. 8 seed — the 1994 Denver Nuggets — has pulled off the feat after losing the first two games of the series. No team has done it since the first round expanded to best-of-seven. The Wizards would be the first.
>> Bradley Beal’s sixth foul in Game 4 felt like a call that would haunt the end of the Wizards’ season. Except, amazingly, it wasn’t. The team that failed to inspire for much of this season, that left you constantly wondering why it couldn’t be a normal, stable playoff team, did something unexpected without Beal in the final five minutes. And this time, it was delightful, writes Jerry Brewer. Meanwhile, John Wall is dictating the rules of engagement. He is making this series a street fight and a street race. It seems an odd combination, but not to him.
>> Speaking of Beal, he’s not speaking about the refs. When the topic of “officiating” came up, Beal’s silent expression said everything. “He doesn’t want to get fined,” joked a team staffer who was standing near the exchange.
>> The Wizards aren’t yet a team that can quietly and methodically play to a standard with consistency. They are an emotional volcano. This first-round series is interesting now because the Wizards have erupted, writes Jerry Brewer.
>> Bradley Beal is back. Friday night, the Wizards guard reclaimed the smooth shooting stroke that elevated him to 13th in the NBA in scoring and resulted in the sixth-year player’s first all-star selection. Another player rising to the occasion in Game 3? Kelly Oubre Jr.
>> The Wizards need to turn up the defense if they hope to get back into this series. Problem is, that’s a very big ask. According to Neil Greenberg, the biggest liabilities for Washington in the half court are Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal. All four rank in the bottom 20 percent of NBA players in the postseason for points allowed per possessions and each is hurting the Wizards in different ways.
>> The Wizards didn’t seem disappointed by their Game 2 loss, so Jerry Brewer wonders: maybe they’re too chill for their own good? “It would be understandable if they had reason to brush off the game as an aberration, if they were a team that didn’t have recurring problems with focus and transferring preparation onto the court. But that is part of their enigmatic identity. You needed the reassurance of feeling their emotions and sensing their urgency. You will have to trust them, however. Good luck.”
>> Any way you judge the Wizards — with or without John Wall, at their best or worst, home or road, bickering or harmonious, big game or run-of-the-mill affair — they do one thing with stunning consistency: Flub the fourth quarter. They close games like they are trying to slam the heaviest door ever made. If they don’t summon more late-game strength, their season of what ifs and not quites will end with a few last “We had ’em, but . . . ” regrets, writes Jerry Brewer.
>> Ty Lawson, who agreed Friday to a deal with the Wizards for the rest of the season, did not play in Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors, but he has more postseason experience over the past two weeks than anyone in this series. Still, it’s unclear whether Lawson will actually see minutes.
>> The Raptors and Wizards are such comparable peers. They’ve both been building toward their current rosters since 2010. They both broke through to the playoffs in 2014. But after the Wizards swept the Raptors in the 2015 playoffs, Toronto made the conference final the next season while Washington still hasn’t advanced beyond the second round. So while the Wizards and Raptors once had similar trajectories, now Toronto has clearly surged ahead, writes Jerry Brewer.
>>The top of the Wizards’ roster might be a little better than the Raptors’ best players. On Saturday night, however, the Raptors sent a strong initial message about who they are during a 114-106 victory in Game 1 at Air Canada Centre. In short, they’re better — clearly better — than Washington, writes Jerry Brewer. These aren’t two teams striding alongside each other on the same journey. The Raptors have pulled ahead, and if you’re expecting them to slow down so the Wizards can catch up, that’s not how this is going to go. If the Wizards hope to win this series — or even become a threat to win — they will have to accelerate.
>> In his postseason predictions, Tim Bontemps writes of Raptors-Wizards, “I want to pick Washington to win this series. The Wizards match up well with Toronto and have shown no fear for them this season … But it’s just impossible to put that much faith in this Wizards team after the way they’ve played this season.” He says it’s Toronto in seven games.
>> Though they’re the underdogs, the Wizards view a matchup with Toronto much more favorably than some of the other teams with lower seeds. And while the Wizards struggled all season with under .500 teams, just as they did on Wednesday in the loss to the Magic, they knocked off nine playoff-bound opponents after the all-star break. They also split the regular-season series with Toronto, players reasoned, and five-time all-star John Wall didn’t play a second in the four games.
>> The Wizards’ struggles over the last couple weeks of the regular season were cause for much hand-wringing in Washington. Coach Scott Brooks used words like “selfish” and “embarrassing.” Among the possible reasons for the slide? Teams figuring out the sets Brooks ran when Wall was sidelined, according to one NBA scout. “If you run the same things week in and week out and those things don’t change, those become stale,” said the scout, who saw the Wizards several times both with and without Wall. “The league doesn’t take that long to adjust to that.”