It probably isn't hard to remember, but going into last year's first round series between the Wizards and Raptors, both teams were floundering. The Raptors had a banged up Kyle Lowry and were without any semblance of defensive identity. The Wizards were simply inconsistent and at the mercy of a clipboard-bungling coach.
Of course, as the series started, one team changed their fate while the other did not. It was Randy Wittman's poison pill that decided the series, as he played Paul Pierce and Drew Gooden at power forward to stretch a comically inept Raptors defense.
Tonight, we find out how much has really changed since that miserable series. The Wizards are once again floundering, 6-7 and struggling with the transition to an up-tempo team. They're also missing Paul Pierce, who may be over the hill, but had grounded a locker room that's always been a bit turbulent.
The Raptors, meanwhile, re-tooled in the off-season to be prepared for teams like Washington. Having a healthy Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph to guard John Wall is preferable to Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams, and a more mobile front-court should help negate any four out lineups with Kris Humphries.
Wednesday's win against the Cavaliers was reassuring, but tonight feels a little more important. There have been few moments in Raptors history where a positive outlook broke down more painfully than during last year's playoffs. It's cliché to label this as revenge, but it is a chance to exorcise some of the desperate frustration we felt last April. Go Raptors.
Before we get going, I recommend you check out Dan Grant's full preview, including the three keys to the game.
Now let's get to the comments.