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Wizards-Raptors: Things to know before Game 3


Wizards-Raptors: Things to know before Game 3

As the headline said, things to know before Wizards-Raptors tip for Game 3.

  • Quick look back at the two games in Toronto before focusing on Game 3. The Wizards claimed two victories over the Raptors after losing the regular season series 3-0. They also won two road games against a team with a winning record - or one more than they had in three months. 

Here is a list of Washington's road games against teams with .500 or better records since January 24:

Jan 24 at Blazers                103-96 L

Jan. 28 at Suns                   106-98 L

Feb 4 at Hawks                  105-96 L

Feb 11 at Raptors                95-93 L

March 3 at Bulls                  97-92  L

March 20 at Clippers        113-99 L

March 23 at Warriors       107-76 L

*April 4 at Grizzlies             92-83 W

April 15 at Cavaliers        113-108 L (OT)


These two victories improved Washington's road playoff record over the last two seasons to 7-1. On the flip side, the Wizards went 1-4 at home last season.

  • The Wizards led by four and 11 points at halftime respectively in Game 1 and 2. Not that DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were around when Toronto played its first playoff game in 2000, but the Raptors franchise is 13-7 when leading at the half in the postseason and 1-19 when trailing. 
  • Several variables have led to the Wizards's 2-0 lead including offensive rebounding, the stretch-4 lineup with Paul Pierce and Otto Porter and the play of Toronto's backcourt. At least in this series, there has been little debate about which team has the best backcourt. Forget John Wall and Bradley Beal. DeRozan and Lowry don't compare to the regular season versions of themselves (regular season numbers followed by playoff stats):

Points: 37.3, 24.0

Field goal %: 41.1, 34.5

3-point FG%: 35.0, 0.0 (0 for 8)

Assists: 9.7, 10.5

  • Mentioned this stat before worth repeating since it took place in each of the first two games: The Wizards are 14-1 this season when at any point in the game using Drew Gooden with starters Wall, Beal, Pierce and Marcin Gortat together. The lone loss was the double-overtime setback against the Pacers in Game 81 of the regular season.

  • And last but not least (though maybe)...The Raptors are 13-18 since Feb. 13. Why that date? That's when Drake released "If You're Reading This It's Too Late."

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How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller were joined by Julie Donaldson to break down the Wizards' wins in Games 3 and 4.

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat are back and the Wizards are a different team because of it. Plus, how regaining their Death Row D.C. mentality has changed this series.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!