The Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 106-98 in Game 4 of their 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series on Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Here's analysis of what went down...
Brand new series: After going down 0-2, most may have written the Wizards off knowing the near-insurmountable odds of coming back not only from that deficit but as an No. 8 seed going up against the best team in the Eastern Conference. It would have been understandable to doubt these Wizards who have for so much of this season allowed teams to bully them to an uncharacteristic degree.
With another win in Game 4, however, the Wizards have recalibrated this series. Not only did the Wizards even things up, they ensured at least one more home game where they have now won eight straight in the postseason.
Controversial foul: The Wizards were dealt a tough blow with 4:58 left as Bradley Beal picked up his sixth foul and was bounced from the game.
Not only was Beal dominating with a team-high 31 points, but the sixth foul was very questionable. He made contact with DeMar DeRozan inadvertently and it is tough to see how he could have avoided it.
Here is the play:
That should simply not be called in that moment. It was a crucial development and both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were understandably furious. If the Wizards had lost, that would have been a major reason why. There is no excuse for referees to impact a game like that.
Sluggish start: Outside of John Wall (27 points, 14 assists, six rebounds) and Beal, who had 12 points and 11 points in the first half, the rest of the Wizards' team was slow-moving early on. The team shot just 34 percent in the first half, 16-for-47, and 1-for-7 from three. They even missed their free throws, going 7-for-13 in the first two quarters.
The Raptors did a good job putting pressure on the, but only Wall and Beal were able to break through. Otto Porter, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds, had one point in the first half. Markieff Morris (six points, five rebounds) had four points at the break.
Even Mike Scott, who has had a huge series, went scoreless in the first half. That was partly due to him getting in early foul trouble.
The Raptors were particularly good at stopping the Wizards in transition. Despite committing 11 turnovers in the first half, they won the fastbreak point advantage 17-4. That was a big point of emphasis coming out of Game 3 according to head coach Dwane Casey and his players followed the lead.
Big third quarter: The Wizards' offense was not held down for long as they came out of the gate on fire in the second half. Beal and Porter led the charge.
Porter erupted for 10 points in the frame. Beal got hot from three and scored 12. The only thing that stopped Beal was foul trouble, as he picked up his fourth personal with just under five minutes left in the quarter and later left with six.
The third quarter shooting numbers overall were impressive. The Wizards shot 15-for-23 (65.2%) from the field and 5-for-6 (83.3%) from three. That'll do.
The Wizards outscored the Raptors 40-29 in the third. It was their biggest postseason quarter since last year's Game 4 against the Celtics. That was when they went on an absurd 26-0 run.
Hella free throws: Many people blamed the refs for the Wizards' loss in Game 1, though the numbers didn't back up that claim. If Wizards fans wanted to gripe about Game 4, they had a better case for a while in this one.
It was kind of ridiculous, especially early on. The Raptors shot 30 free throws in the game compared to 31 for the Wizards, so it evened out. But Toronto shot 16 free throws in the first quarter alone and 12 of them were attempted by DeRozan. He is one of the best in the business at drawing fouls, but that a bit extreme.
DeRozan, in fact, finished the first quarter with nine points and all of them were at the free throw line. He was 0-for-5 from field goal range.
When DeRozan is getting to the line, he can control games and early on that was the case in this one. He set a new playoff career-high with 18 attempts and made 14 of them.
The refs called the game much tighter than they did previously in this series. Perhaps that was a response to the chippiness in Game 3.
Three-point defense: Stopping the Raptors from hitting threes has been a major key all series. In Game 4, the Wizards did their best job yet.
Washington held the Raptors to seven threes, their fewest three-pointers since Feb. 4. The Raptors had made 12 threes or more in each of the first three games this series.
After going 5-for-10 from long range in the first half, the Raptors went 2-for-8 in the second. If the Wizards can play defense like that, it will be tough for Toronto to win this series.
Up next: The series moves on to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington with pregame coverage beginning with Wizards HangTime at 6 p.m.
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