The Wizards are heading to their second straight playoffs. They made a lot noise in last year’s NBA Playoffs when they beat the Chicago Bulls in the first round and took the Indiana Pacers to game six in the second round. This year’s playoffs are a whole new story. The Wizards are going into the playoffs with less momentum compared to last year and they are facing a Toronto Raptors team they have only beat once in the last two seasons.
Washington Wizards (46-36) vs. Toronto Raptors (49-33)
November 7, Raptors 103-94
Saturday January 31, Raptors 120-116 OT
Wednesday February 4, Raptors 95-93
Regular Season Overview
Going into the final week of the season, the Wizards knew they were going to either face the Toronto Raptors or the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. With a win against the Atlanta Hawks in the final game of the season, the Bulls move up to the three seed and the Wizards are heading to Toronto to face a Raptors team they have only beaten once in the last two seasons.
The Washington Wizards season was a tale of two halves. They started the season as one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference with high hopes of making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Momentum shifted for the Wizards in the month of February when the Wizards went on a six game losing streak that started before the All-Star with a lost against the Raptors and continued after the break. The Wizards also dropped from the third seed to the fifth seed.
The Toronto Raptors experienced something similar to the Wizards. Earlier in the season the Raptors was the best team in the Eastern Conference. Then they experienced their own form of a slump. In addition to that teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls caught fire and knocked the Raptors down to the fourth seed.
Since last season, the Washington Wizards have had a hard time beating the Toronto Raptors. The Wizards lost the season series, and lost three out of the four games against the Raptors last year. But this doesn’t mean the Wizards will get run over by the Raptors.
Out of all the first round matchup in the Eastern Conference, this matchup has the potential to be the most competitive. Both teams are equally matched. They started the season strong and struggled after the All-Star break. The only difference is that the Raptors have proved that they can handle the Wizards.
The point guard matchup between John Wall and Kyle Lowry will be an interesting one. John Wall is arguably the best player going into the series. His speed and dribble penetration will be tough for Kyle Lowry to guard. Not only that, Kyle Lowry has been dealing with back problems and you can’t guard the fastest player in the league with a bad back.
One thing to look at is how well John can score in the series. In last year’s playoff run, the 2-time All-Star had a hard time shooting the basketball. During the season, John improved on his shooting especially his pull-up jump shot. But when he played against Toronto, he had a hard time scoring as he shot 40.9 percent from the field in the three times these two teams meet.
If the Wizards want to win this series, they have to play constant basketball, and be sure to shut down the Raptors bench. Toronto’s bench is the fifth best bench in the league and they are led by Lou Williams. This season, Lou has averaged 15.3ppg of the bench which was good for second best in the league. Williams is good at taking over games and if the Wizards let him have his way, it will be a short series for the Wiz Kids.
Prediction: Toronto 4-2
The Toronto Raptors has a big advantage in this series. They already possess the confidence that they can beat the Wizards since they have done it in seven of the last eight meetings. The Raptors have an offense that is able to play against the Wizards defense. Also they have a stronger bench. If the get on a role early, it will be hard for the Wizards comeback.
Round by Round Prediction
Game 1: Toronto over Wizards
Game 2: Toronto over Wizards
Game 3: Wizards over Toronto
Game 4: Toronto over Wizards
Game 5: Wizards over Toronto
Game 6: Toronto over Wizards
Ryan McFadden is the President of Inside The Locker Room and the sports writer for the DeMatha Stagline. Ryan is an advent DC sports fan and covers mostly high school sports for Inside The Locker Room. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @RMcFadden15
Be sure to Follow Inside The Locker Room on Twitter: @lockerroom2015