Not having a veteran that’s seen everything and been through everything comes at a cost to the Toronto Raptors, losing game 1 of their playoff series with the Washington Wizards, making the most of their own “old man”, Paul Pierce.
The Wizards walk away with a 93-86 win in overtime against a Raptors team that shot just 38% from the field, scored just four points in overtime and overall seemed to fit the bill of what Pierce suggested they were – a team the Wizards don’t have to worry about. Jump shooting and looking nervous on offense, the Raptors seemed outmatched mentally and physically during too many moments.
Pierce scored 20 points to lead the Wizards, showing that regular season form (the Raptors swept the regular season series) means nothing in the playoff. Randy Wittman might be a joke to many people, but he did a very good job of preparing his players defensively for a team that relies too much on the form of its shooting instead of figuring out things during a game by actually thinking on offense.
There isn’t a lot of love between the two teams, hovering around the same places for the last couple of years. Bradley Beal waved Kyle Lowry goodbye as the Raptors point guard fouled out before overtime. The Raptors fans were busy taunting Pierce all game long, but the air and enthusiasm was sucked out of ‘Jurassic Park’ rather quickly due to Pierce doing exactly what he was brought in for.
Besides Pierce (7-of-10 from the field), it was an ugly day of shooting for his teammates as well. Bradley Beal at 6-of-23, John Wall making just 5-of-18. But they had Pierce, something the Raptors are missing. Their combination of misses from Lowry, DeRozan and Lou Williams didn’t have the wise old man to balance it with clever shooting and wise decision making.
The Raptors won’t win this series if they keep getting dominated under the glass by Nene, Marcin Gortat and even Drew Gooden. They’re not going to even come close, because the Wizards aren’t the Nets who couldn’t win two games in a row unless they had three days of rest last season. This is just one old man with a very good team around him. It takes better basketball than their awful display in game 1 to claw back from it.