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Wizards fall in Game 1 to Raptors due to three-point barrage from Toronto

Wizards fall in Game 1 to Raptors due to three-point barrage from Toronto

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 114-106 in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Down 0-1: The Raptors exorcised a playoff demon on Saturday night and it came at the expense of the Washington Wizards.

After losing 10 straight Game 1s, the Raptors finally got over the hump to begin the first round series between Washington and Toronto and the biggest reason was the three-point shot. That is perhaps fitting given the transformation the Raptors have made with their offense this season.

The Wizards are normally one of the best teams at defending the perimeter with the sixth-best opponent three-point percentage in the NBA. For a variety of reasons, that was not the case in Game 1. The Raptors set a playoff franchise record with 16 threes and shot 53.3 percent from long range.

C.J. Miles hit four triples, Serge Ibaka and Delon Wright each had three and both OG Anunoby and DeMar DeRozan each had two. That was despite Kyle Lowry, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters, who only went 1-for-4.

The Wizards are in an 0-1 hole and should still feel good about their chances in this series, but they have to clean that up or they won't last long.


Playoff Keef: The Wizards are a much different team when Markieff Morris is playing at his best and his coach and teammates talk about it all the time. On Saturday, they got the best version of the power forward.

Morris brought the energy on both ends of the floor and impacted the game in a variety of ways. His stat-line reflected that. Morris had 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

Morris made a lot of his money in the midrange, but also threw down this big alley-oop:

There are several signs to look for when Morris is not only engaged but feeling spry. Alley-oops are one of them, in addition to rebounding and attacking the rim instead of camping out at the three-point line. He checked off all of those boxes in Game 1. If that keeps up for the rest of the series, the Wizards will be in good shape.

The bad news is that Morris tweaked his left ankle late in the game. It's the same ankle that he hurt in Game 1 against the Celtics last year. The injury had a major effect on his offseason.


Tale of two halves: The Wizards did an excellent job of defending the Raptors' two best players in the first half, holding DeRozan and Lowry to a combined seven points through two quarters. The two attempted only a combined eight shots as guys like Anunoby and Ibaka led the way with 24 points between them by the break.

That wouldn't last long, however, as both Lowry and DeRozan came out hot in the second half. They combined for eight points in the first 2:12 in the third quarter, more than their entire first-half output.

Lowry only had 11 points, but added nine assists and two steals. DeRozan had 17 points and six assists.

Wall vs. Drake: One of the more entertaining moments in this game came in the second quarter and it involved John Wall (23 points, 15 assists) and a Raptors fan on the sideline. Well, it was no ordinary fan.

After going back and forth trash-talking on Instagram, Wall and rap superstar Drake kept it going face-to-face. Wall had some words for Drake during a timeout and video immediately went viral on social media:

The best part is that the Wizards quickly went on a big run. From that moment on, they outscored the Raptors 28-16 to close the first half. We all deserve more of this rivalry, even though Drake had the last laugh.

Foul trouble: Head coach Scott Brooks had to get creative with his rotations early in this one as both of his primary centers picked up two fouls before the midway point in the first quarter. Marcin Gortat (12 points, six rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (two points, two minutes) each got early fouls, including one on the opening tip for Gortat.

That forced Brooks to go with Mike Scott as his big man early and it was a tough assigment. Scott had to play defense on Jonas Valanciunas and Ibaka, two guys who are significantly bigger than him. Ibaka took advantage in particular with 14 points in the first half, a game-high at the time. Ibaka finished with a huge night of 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Scott, though, stepped up big-time. He had 14 points in the game on 7-for-10 from the field. Consider that this guy was almost out of the NBA a year ago. It has been an amazing comeback for the former University of Virginia star. Scott's status for this game was also once in question due to concussion protocol after he left the regular season finale following a hit to the head.

Scott was the standout for the Wizards' second unit, the the Raptors had a big advantage in the second unit overall. Their bench outscored that of the Wizards by a margin of 42-21.


No VanVleet: The Raptors were down a key player in Game 1, as backup point guard Fred VanVleet was absent due to a banged up right shoulder. He suffered the injury in the Raptors' final regular season game and his loss was noteworthy. VanVleet is one of the best backup point guards in the NBA and often gets crunchtime minutes late in games. If he misses more action, it could help the Wizards' chances in this series.

The Wizards have an injury situation to watch, too. Though Otto Porter played, he was clearly hobbled by the right lower leg strain that kept him out of the Wizards' last regular season game. Porter only scored nine points and took seven shots.


Rain delay: The game didn't start on time due to a leaky roof at the Air Canada Centre. The weather was awful in Toronto, freezing rain and 29 degree temperatures. It forced the Raptors to cancel their outdoor tailgate at the famed Jurassic Park. That moisture also found its way through the roof and onto the court. Luckily, it only delayed the game for a few minutes.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors pick back up for Game 2 on Tuesday in Toronto. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Pregame coverage starts with Wizards HangTime at 6 p.m.

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Nets, as Wizards aim for fourth straight win

Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Nets, as Wizards aim for fourth straight win

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards battle Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, D'Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Wizards are on a roll

Say what you will about the opponents they've beaten, but the Wizards are heating up. They have won three straight games with their last one a blowout over the Cavs. This is their longest win streak of the season.

Four in a row would be a nice number. The Wizards only had two win streaks of at least four games last season. One stopped at four and the longest ended at five. 

Nets have their number

Speaking of last season, the Wizards had a heck of a time facing this same Brooklyn team. They lost two of their three meetings in 2017-18 with the lone win coming in overtime. One of their losses was by 35 points.

The Nets, though they haven't won 30 games in each of the past three seasons, are now pushovers. They are well-coached by Kenny Atkinson and are known for trying very hard despite their lack of talent. The Wizards generally have problems with those types of teams. Winning this game could help them prove this is a new year.

Nets have some players now

Brooklyn has been ridiculed in recent years as the Boston Celtics have reaped the benefits of their high draft picks stemming from the infamous Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade. But along the way, the Nets have done a decent job of finding young talent without hitting the lottery.

Caris LeVert was probably the best example of that, though he is now nursing a serious ankle injury and will miss this game. But Brooklyn also has guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who this year is averaging 14.2 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three. They also have Joe Harris, who is putting up 13.4 points on a ridiculous 52.4 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from three. 

Then there's Jarrett Allen, who was acquired using a first round pick the Wizards sent Brooklyn in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal. At just 20 years old, he's turning into a nice young player. This year he's averaging 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.


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Austin Rivers wants to interview Jay-Z and Barack Obama; still can't get John Wall on his podcast

USA Today

Austin Rivers wants to interview Jay-Z and Barack Obama; still can't get John Wall on his podcast

Just one episode into his new podcast 'Go Off,' Wizards guard Austin Rivers is already learning plenty about the media world. With plans to become a television analyst when his playing days are done, Rivers is gaining a new appreciation for what it takes to speak at-length without stumbling over his words.

He's also starting to realize one of the biggest pain points for a media member: waiting on guests. Rivers has tried to line up interviews with his teammates and it's been much easier said than done.

Rivers is set to have Dwight Howard on as his first guest, but the original plan was point guard John Wall. Wall, though, has been giving him the runaround.

"That's the hardest thing is getting guests to show up," Rivers said. 

"It's impossible to get John on my podcast. At this point, I just don't expect it anymore. He says he'll do it next week and then the week comes. John has like 15 things to do a day. I don't know what these guys do. I play in the league, too. I know how un-busy my life is outside of this. And I've got a kid. John has a brand to run. He's a different level. Sorry, you can see the frustration on my face with not getting John on my podcast, man."

Rivers hopes to have many of his teammates on. He mentioned Kelly Oubre Jr. and how an interview with Oubre "might be a little out there." He also gave a hint about what his conversation with Howard will be like.

"I'm definitely gonna have some interesting topics to bring up with Dwight. I told him 'listen, you might want to check with your publicist before coming on my podcast.' We only talk about real conversations on here," Rivers said.

Rivers says he plans to start with fellow NBA players and then work in special episodes with guests outside of the league and even outside of basketball. He hopes to record an episode with financial advisors to talk about money and investments. He wants to take a deep dive into the AAU circuit and how it can be fixed.

Eventually, Rivers wants to aim very high with his guests. He gave a list of his dream interviews and there are some big names.

"Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade. Dwyane Wade is my favorite player. I'm gonna get Dwyane Wade on my podcast, for sure. I'm gonna go ahead and put that out there," Rivers said.

"Off-the-court, I would love to get Denzel Washington on there. That would be my dream... I want to do a podcast with me and my dad and Jaden Smith and Will Smith. I think that would be really dope, talking about parent-to-son success and how he related to his son to have a work ethic and how my dad did it to me."

Rivers went even higher. He wants to interview a president.

"I guess if I could go the highest, I would go Jay-Z or [Barack] Obama. But let's be realistic, here," Rivers said.

"[Interviewing Obama] would be incredible, bro. I would be so nervous. I'm not there yet, I'll be honest. I need like six or seven or eight more podcasts before I can get Obama on there because I'm gonna be stuttering. I can't do it with Obama yet. I don't know if I could handle Denzel right now."