Otto Porter has demonstrated a knack for playing through and ultimately getting past injuries this season and the Wizards now need that to be the case more than ever.
The sharpshooting small forward left the team's penultimate regular season game with a right lower leg strain and missed the finale. In the Wizards' Game 1 loss against the Raptors, Porter looked hobbled by the injury, especially after landing awkwardly on his right leg early in the first quarter.
Otto Porter was a gametime decision and he may have tweaked his right leg injury on this play. pic.twitter.com/GZppuLq2Ak— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) April 14, 2018
Porter, 24, has battled a right hip injury for years and it cropped up several times throughout the 2017-18 regular season. He would periodically leave games or miss practice, but would always bounce back quickly. Two full off-days between Games 1 and 2 should help that cause this time around with this particular injury.
The Wizards certainly hope so because they saw in Game 1 just how much they need Porter at full-strength. He is invaluable in several areas of the game where the Wizards struggled against Toronto, including shooting threes and defending them.
Porter finished third in the NBA this season in three-point percentage. He shot 44.1 percent on 4.1 attempts per game. In Game 1, Porter went just 1-for-3 and the Wizards made only eight threes. They averaged 9.9 per game during the regular season.
The Raptors allowed less three-pointers (8.9/g) than any team in the league and were second in preventing three-point attempts (25.0/g). Porter can help the Wizards break through the Raptors' perimeter defense, but he has to be healthy to do so.
Porter's game relies heavily on him moving without the ball, cutting to and from the basket and rolling off screens. He isn't the fastest guy to begin with and can't afford to lose the mobility he has.
Porter topped out at nine points in Game 1 and attempted only seven shots. He had only one field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, a missed three-pointer with 5:18 to go. The Wizards were outscored by Toronto 28-21 in the final frame and lost by eight points.
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined to shoot 2-for-8 in the fourth, as the Wizards kept going back to them down the stretch. Porter was not a factor and it's one of the reasons their offense stalled late in the game. The mere threat of him shooting threes can space the floor and open up their offense.
The Wizards also need Porter for three-point defense. It is an area the Wizards have improved in significantly in the two years under head coach Scott Brooks and Porter has played an important role. He does a good job navigating screens to pressure perimeter shooters and has the length and timing to alter shots.
Porter was third on the Wizards this season in contested three-point shots per game (2.3). Beal is one of the best in the NBA in the category with 4.1 contested threes per game and Kelly Oubre, Jr. was second on the team at 2.9. Those three lead the charge for the Wizards, who were sixth in opponent three-point percentage (34.9) and 12th in three-pointers allowed per game (10.2).
Those numbers did not hold up in Game 1. The Raptors went off for a franchise playoff record 16 threes and shot 51.7 percent from long range. That's not all on Porter, of course, but he is one of their best answers to make adjustments.
Porter's play is even more important than usual at the moment also because Oubre is struggling. Brooks only played Oubre 16 minutes in Game 1, 11.5 less than his season average.
The third-year forward has been mired in a shooting slump. He shot 30.6 percent from the field and 18.9 percent from three in his final 10 regular season games. He went 1-for-4 in Game 1.
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Oubre is also not as consistent as Brooks would like him to be on defense and he committed a costly turnover with 6:36 left in the fourth quarter that led to a timely three for the Raptors. If Brooks wants to go away from Oubre like he did at times during last year's playoffs, he needs Porter at full capacity.
Porter is indispensable for the Wizards in all scenarios and especially now given the stakes of the playoffs and how he can help specifically against this Raptors team. How he rebounds from Game 1 and from this injury could determine plenty as the Wizards hope to extend their season.
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