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Is Raptors' hot three-point shooting sustainable in first round playoff series vs. Wizards?

Is Raptors' hot three-point shooting sustainable in first round playoff series vs. Wizards?

In some ways the 16 threes the Toronto Raptors made in Game 1 were no fluke. Though they set a franchise playoff record, three-point shooting has been a calling card for the Raptors all season.

They may not shoot 51.7 percent, as they did in Game 1, but there is no question this Raptors team is more dangerous from long range than they have ever been before. It was a big point of emphasis last offseason and throughout the year as they made a dramatic shift in their scoring philosophy. 

Following the Wizards' Game 1 loss, guard Bradley Beal expressed some doubt as to whether certain Raptors players can keep it up.

“There was a lot of guys who we didn’t expect to make those threes who made them,” Beal told reporters in Toronto. “We’ll live with those.”

Raptors guard C.J. Miles was relayed what Beal said and issued a response.

“You might not call certain guys shooters,” Miles said. “But it’s part of their skillset. The shots we get in our offense, we work on them every day. We drill them, and those guys know where they’re coming from.”

Let's look at the numbers. As mentioned above, the Raptors made a huge jump in three-point shooting from the previous season. After ranking 21st and 22nd in three-point makes and attempts in 2016-17, they moved all the way to fourth and third in 2017-18. The Raptors took 35.4 percent more threes this season and made 33.5 percent more triples than they did one year before.

The 16 threes were considerably more than their 11.8 per game average during the regular season, but 16 is not an outlandish number for them. Toronto made 16 threes or more 12 different times this past season. They had only done so five total times in their previous franchise history. Only the Rockets and Nets made 16-plus threes this season more often than Toronto. 

The Raptors have a deep stable of shooters and that was on display in Game 1. Miles, who made 2.3 threes per game during the season, hit 4-of-7 on Saturday. Serge Ibaka shoots 36 percent, great for a big man, and went 3-for-4 in Game 1.

Delon Wright also hit three, while DeMar DeRozan and OG Anunoby had two apiece. Seven different players hit at least one three for Toronto. Even Pascal Siakam, a power forward who shoots 22 percent from long range, made one.

This was all despite Kyle Lowry, their best three-point shooter, going 1-for-4, and backup point guard Fred VanVleet, who shoots 41.4 percent from three, missing the game. 

What the Raptors did in Game 1 is exactly what they envisioned when they added guys like Miles last summer and committed to the longball. They hope threes will carry them further in the playoffs than DeRozan and Lowry have been before.

The Raptors are going to keep shooting threes and it will be up to the Wizards to stop them. The good news is that they are equipped to do so. 

The Wizards held opponents to the sixth-lowest three-point percentage (34.9) in the NBA this season and the 12th-fewest threes per game (10.2). They have Bradley Beal roaming the perimeter and he contested the ninth-most threes of any player in the NBA this season. 

The Wizards proved during the regular season they could solve the Raptors three-point attack. Washington held Toronto to 9.3 threes per game in their four meetings. In three of the four games they kept them under their season average and Toronto shot 30.3 percent or worse from three in those three games.

It was early in the year and the Raptors were still adjusting their new style, but on Nov. 5 the Raptors made only five threes in a loss to the Wizards in Toronto. Those five threes were a season-low and their 20.8 three-point percentage was their second-lowest of the season. 

Only two teams, the Warriors and Grizzlies, held the Raptors to a lower three-point percentage this season than the Wizards did (29.6). Washington played them four times, while the Warriors and Grizzlies each saw them twice.

The numbers show that the Raptors can make threes like they did in Game 1 on a regular basis. But the stats also demonstrate the Wizards are more than capable of stopping them. Something has to give and it could be the biggest factor that determines the outcome of this series.

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by Nick Ashooh and Stefon Marquis to talk NBA Draft. 

They broke down five prospects and their potential fit with the Wizards: Moe Wagner of Michigan, Michael Porter, Jr. of Missouri, Grayson Allen of Duke, Collin Sexton of Alabama and Omari Spellman of Villanova.

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!

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