Oozing with confidence, the Washington Wizards came away with another road win in game 2, 117-106 over the Toronto Raptors, taking a 2-0 lead in the series and heading back home feeling as if they’re not going to cross the border again in these playoffs.
The point guard situation is interesting. Kyle Lowry isn’t playing very well (6 points in 27 minutes) but the Raptors were winning by nine points during his time on the floor. He keeps getting into foul trouble, and that’s the real issue, because it gave Greivis Vasquez too many minutes in the game, in which he got torched time after time, having a -22 for his 28 minutes.
Lowry left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury and did not return. The Raptors seem to be dealing with a lot of confidence issues, an offensive and defensive concept that isn’t working (and that’s being gentle) and might now be forced to play the next game, which might be when the Wizards finally bring down the hammer, without him.
The Raptors didn’t shoot badly in game 2, but they seem to be pushed around with ease. The Wizards are getting to pick their spots on offense with ease, usually through transition. The Raptors kept losing Bradley Beal which led to his 28 points. A lot of them came from John Wall and his 17 assists, combined with 26 points in probably his finest postseason performance.
Paul Pierce was quiet this time. As if he set the tone in the first game, and the young guys picked up the signal. Wall and Beal exploding in the backcourt; Otto Porter doing a fantastic job off the bench with 15 points. Those are the three players Pierce discussed before the playoffs in his interview that included trashing a lot of former teammates. No one said Pierce was a classy guy, but he knows his basketball, and probably a thing or two about pushing someone’s buttons.
The Raptors don’t seem to have that player on their side to do it. Not that they need a veteran to realize they’re in trouble. But the Wizards are playing like they have a chip on their shoulder. Like they’re being disrespected. They need someone fanning those flames, especially when none of that is true. The Raptors seem to think, at least according to Amir Johnson, that it’s all about pride, and not about fixing their leaky defense.
A series that went in one direction during the regular season is looking one-sided still, but the other way around. No big man combination seems to be working for the Raptors while the Wizards are getting the most out of their guys, even supposedly washed up players like Drew Gooden. Until more players step up and realize it’s now or never, the Raptors will continue to look like someone who came with a knife to a gun fight.