Sport

Jurassic Park closed as Raptors set to play Wizards in playoffs

Jurassic Park closed as Raptors set to play Wizards in playoffs

Before, Saturday the Raptors had played in 13 playoff series in franchise history, but won the opening game just once.

There was little more than a hair's difference between these first and eight seeds during the regular season, and even though they and the Toronto Raptors are the only Eastern Conference teams to not be below.500 at any point this season and even though they were one of only eight teams in the league to have a winning record against teams above.500, the Washington Wizards might have been the least-fancied team going into this post-season even before Jodie Meeks flunked his drug test on the eve of the playoffs.

John Wall paced the Wizards with 23 points and 15 assists, while Markieff Morris added 22 points and 11 rebounds in the defeat.

Both squads are highly talented, and both bring plenty of emotion to the table.

The Raptors still remember getting swept out of the first round by the Wizards in 2015.

If you paid attention to the Raptors in the regular season (or read this story), you know all about their "culture reset" and offensive transformation: Despite finishing sixth in offensive rating last season, they installed a completely new system in training camp, one which required their primary scorers to sacrifice touches, empower their teammates and move without the ball.

DeMar DeRozan scored 17 points, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby had 12 points each and Kyle Lowry ended with 11 points and nine assists for Toronto, which halted an NBA-worst 10-game losing streak in playoff openers.

But then. things changed.

"We got Game 1, as we should".

The Wizards kept things close through three quarters behind a strong effort from Wall, but a 10-0 Raptors run in the fourth quarter secured a 114-106 Game 1 win and fended off panic in Toronto that nothing had actually changed with this team.

"We got Game 1, as we should", DeMar DeRozan said after the game.

Washington will have two days to find a counter to Toronto's depth as Game 2 is set on Tuesday. "On home court, we're supposed to win, and that's our mindset", he said. The Toronto point guard hit two free throws and assisted on a Miles' 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 spurt for the Raptors.

"Playoff games are tough", Casey said. No playoff opponent has had to spend as much time scheming to face a bench like this one; no playoff opponent has faced a Raptors bench capable of surprising like this one.

Wall scored nine points in the first, but Gortat and replacement Ian Mahinmi each had two fouls before the first quarter was half over. "It's definitely a pick your poison, but we just have to do it better", Brooks said. Philadelphia outscored Miami by 31 points in the second half. Washington went into the halftime break with a 59-55 advantage.

This is what the Raptors have said in recent seasons about trying to slow down the Cleveland Cavaliers, even as they were getting thumped by them.

DeRozan had 12 points in a third quarter that saw neither team lead by more than five points.

A few hours before tipoff, it was announced that Fred VanVleet (shoulder) would not be playing in tonight's game.


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