Raptors [34-15] at Wizards [28-22]: Preview & 3 keys to victory

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 19: Bradley Beal
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 19: Bradley Beal /

The Raptors face the Wizards, who are breathing down their necks in the standings. However, Washington has lost John Wall for many weeks. Time to take advantage.

The Raptors travel to the U.S. capital to do battle with the Washington Wizards. This is the third of four matches against this troublesome squad; the first two were split in Toronto.

The Wizards should be reeling with the news that John Wall, their point guard since seemingly forever, will undergo knee surgery. He’s gone until around St. Patrick’s Day. In their two games since going shorthanded, the Wizards hammered the Hawks, then ended the OKC Thunder’s 8-game win streak. I have no clue what to make of those results, other than I’m impressed by their resilience.

TORONTO, ON – MARCH 01: DeMar DeRozan tries to dribble past Marcin Gortat, while Otto Porter Jr. joins the play.
TORONTO, ON – MARCH 01: DeMar DeRozan tries to dribble past Marcin Gortat, while Otto Porter Jr. joins the play. /

Wizard breakdown

Tomas Satoransky has stepped in for Wall. He possesses a solid handle, and is a determined defender. Offensively he’s a giant step down, which places additional responsibility on the shoulders of Otto Porter and Bradley Beal. If the Raptors are going to prevail, they must zero in on those two.

Beal reminds me of Damien Lillard in Portland. Both of them are brilliant at carving out space to take high-quality jumpers. Porter likes to set up his office in the corner, where he can do large damage from outside the 3-point arc. He’s connecting at over 42% this season from deep.

Marcin Gortat’s numbers are down across the board. Wizards management has to be thinking about nudging him to rotation status. The man is 33, and has been pounding inside for 10 seasons. Even so, he’s never hurt, and always makes Jonas Valanciunas earn what he gets.

Markieff Morris is my idea of a journeyman power forward. He can score a little, rebound a little, but he’s not who the Wiz want when they start to dream big.

Kelly Oubre Jr. comes off the bench to add energy and scoring from the wing. Ian Mahinmi barely covers the backup center spot. Their other bench guys don’t move many needles in either direction.

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3 keys to Raptors victory

  1. Defend their shooters. Without Wall’s 19.4 points per game, the Wiz are going to struggle on offense. There’s no surprises on the horizon; if Beal and Porter can be bottled up, the Raptors are in business. Defense by committee will be the order of the day. Norman Powell, Delon Wright, OG Anunoby; it’s wake-up time. Watch for JV and Serge Ibaka to be active well beyond the perimeter.
  2. Limit their second-chance opportunities. Watch that clip of Fred VanVleet boxing out Karl-Athony Towns. It’s a thing of beauty, and a lesson to every Raptor. Our guys want to run, but they can’t without the ball. Long shot – long rebound. Mutter it under your breath.
  3. Pound Gortat. Washington can be beaten in the paint if we can sit down their center. Get some fouls on him, then double up on Mahinmi.


The Raptors have shot poorly in both their previous games against Washington. There’s no reason for that to continue. Kyle Lowry is overdue for a big game.

Toronto 109 – Washington 100