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Game Preview #10: @ Wizards & The Art Of Beating Terrible Teams


This is one of those games that makes bloggers and fans alike say ugh like they are Master P (hence the photo). Nothing about Wizards/Raptors is going to draw much excitement, but it is the same as all 66 games this year and a very valuable win is at stake tonight for the Raptors as they gear up for that extremely tough three game stretch against the Pacers/Hawks/Bulls. A win against the Wizards is crucial to cushion the blow of a very possible 0-3 stretch later this week.

This is good because the Wizards are well, terrible. The kind of terrible that makes you never want to watch them play basketball, the type of terrible that actually makes you feel bad for Flip Saunders, the type of terrible where a player’s mom trashes the team after her son plays in a game where he actually airballs his first ever NBA free throw.

But terrible teams are usually very tricky, especially young terrible teams like the Wizards on a home/away back to back. See young terrible teams have that added advantage of accumulating lots of young players who (usually) bring an added athletic energy to the game that can give any team trouble. Combine that with the fact that young players are fueled by momentum in a game full of runs and a terrible team can become world beaters in less than three minutes.

On the other hand the terrible team is prone to massive lows. See they lose nearly every night so every time something goes wrong a “not again” feeling sinks in and they begin to fold. When you expect to lose and start losing, it becomes easy to feel like everything is crumbling around you.

The blueprint of beating a terrible team is quite simple, but is sometimes a hard ask. If the better team just plays hard and does all of the little things they would do against any other team success is followed, but it becomes increasingly difficult as players often sluff off the terrible team and take the win as a given, forgetting to do the work that is required to seal a victory, even against the worst of teams.

This brings up the question: Are the Raptors terrible themselves? Can they be lumped in with the Wizards in the island of NBA misfits? I say no. The Raptors have a defense first approach and veteran presence that can prevent long stretches of terrible that teams like the Wizards are prone to that keeps them away from the bottom-tier. The Raps aren’t “good” yet, but they have climbed out of the realm of “terrible” for now.

Keys to Victory

Raptors:  If the Raptors want to avoid becoming the Wizards first conquest they will need to do the things they have done well in all of their wins this season; which is to play solid defense and clean up the glass. The Wizards have had shooting struggles all season, but McGee can still get it on the glass when they want to and as we saw in the Nets game, the Raptors will still lose if they don’t give a max effort in the hustle department.

Wizards:  John Wall. If the Wizards are going to win tonight they will finally need to get a superstar performance from the future of their franchise.


Raptors:  Linas Klezia is day-to-day and awaiting his return from surgery on his right knee, Aaron Gray is still out.

Wizards:  Rashard Lewis is day-to-day, Andray Blatche is out with a shoulder injury.

Where to Watch

US: Comcast SportsNet Baltimore

Canada:  TSN