Turns out expectations are a dangerous thing. We expected the Raptors to come into Game 2 against the Wizards with a sense of urgency. The team could not afford to go down 2-0 before heading to Washington. In the first quarter, the fire was there. DeMar DeRozan came out with aggressive drives, Jonas Valanciunas worked the post, and the Raptors crept out to a modest five point lead. Sure, Kyle Lowry was not playing particularly well, but that could sort itself out right? That was the first quarter.
But then the Wizards realized they could get any shot they wanted, and our woes began.
By the end of the half, after John Wall and Bradley Beal decided to carve up the Raptors "defense" any which way they wanted, the score was 60-48 in favour of the Wiz. The Raptors looked lost; transition D, pick-and-roll D, boxing out, nothing was working. By this point, Beal had 20 points, and Wall had a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists. (The Raptors as a team had 10 assists.) The rebounding advantage was almost 2-to-1 for the Wizards. And Lowry, already playing poorly, had three fouls. As you would expect, more time for Greivis Vasquez was not the answer. (And the less said about James Johnson's emergence in the second quarter, the better.)
But we expect the Raptors to come back. As bizarre as it sounds, it always feels like the Raps - armed with newly crowned Sixth Man Lou Williams, swag champ Vasquez and streaky shooters in Patrick Patterson (15 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting) and Terrence Ross - are never out. Despite getting outscored 34-18 in the second quarter, with the trends suggesting that a loss was inevitable, the Raptors clawed back.
Our expectations created a mirage. After the Raps pulled to within two in the 3rd quarter, the Wizards blazed back on a 10-0 run to effectively kill the spirit of the Raptors. A run of three pointers from Wall, Drew Gooden (of all people), and Otto Porter put the Raps down by 97-75. The game was over. We just had to wait for the clock to count down.
The final says 117-106, but it may as well have been a 20-30 point deficit. The Raptors could not play defense, could not get rebounds, and despite hitting shots, could not produce enough of an efficient offense to hurt the Wizards. Wall and Beal, playing like the best backcourt in the East, finished with 26 points-17 assists and 28 points, respectively. While DeRozan and Williams finished with 20 points each, it was not enough.
And poor Kyle Lowry, hounded all night by defenders and... something (expectations?), was forced to watch another game slip away from the bench, an injury taking him off the court this time.
The Raptors look dead. And now we expect them to lose. It's funny how those things turn so quickly.
What did you guys think of the game?