2. PJ Washington vs Toronto’s porous frontcourt
The Raptors need to neutralize PJ Washington.
Charlotte has moved towards a much smaller lineup over the last few games, as Bismack Biyombo’s contributions at center simply are inadequate on the offensive end. This leads to Washington getting the lion’s share of the offensive touches when the Hornets need a bucket on the interior. Given his ability to move well without the ball and rise up from three, Washington at the 5 prevents a legit challenge for anyone who wants to play a traditional center against the Hornets. Luckily, Toronto will likely start one of those very same traditional centers.
The drop-off in production from Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka to Aron Baynes and Alex Len has been startling, as their inability to stop baskets inside is outweighed only by their incredibly inept offensive game. In fact, Baynes and Len have yet to put the ball in the basket over the last few games.
The Raptors’ best overall lineup on both ends of the floor features Chris Boucher or Pascal Siakam inside at the five, with Boucher in particular becoming a star before our very eyes due to his ability to block shots at the rim and show off a reliable jump shot. Washington and Miles Bridges have formed a hellacious power forward tandem that has helped make Charlotte a threat in the East, and Nurse’s defense needs to bring their A-game over the next few days.