After that beautiful display of the way basketball is meant to be played, it's kind of hard to find anything to nitpick, am I right?
In all seriousness, what exactly went wrong, besides not showing up?
Let's examine some theories.
First, Dwane Casey had some theories about why they struggled in Game 1.
"Honestly our tempo has to be different," he said. "We have to play our game. I think yesterday we really bogged down and played too slow."
In the team's three wins against Washington this year, they posted an average pace of 95.3. In wins on the year, the Raptors posted a pace of 95.1. In losses, 95.9. So a higher pace results in more losses than wins. Now, to his point, the first game against the Wizards was a much slower pace: 89.6, and they ended up in a down-to-the-wire overtime game.
So, let's see how the theory worked out. This time around, the teams posted a pace of 100.0, and the Raptors got blown out. Solid theory, but it might need work.
"We had great looks, I believe in our shooters and they believe in themselves," said Casey. "That part I'm not concerned about, they’re not going to miss that many shots again but what we have to be concerned about is our rebounding."
In the three wins against the Wizards in-season, the Raptors managed an average offensive rebounding percentage (OREB%) of 20.5 percent. The Wizards averaged an average OREB% of 31.2. The Raptors were dramatically out-rebounded in all three games, all three of which the Raptors won. That said, rebounding better could help, and in the first game the Raptors managed only a 19.2 OREB% versus the Wizards' 33.3 percent.
Again, we test the theory. This game, the Raptors only managed an OREB% of 12.5 percent, while still giving up 30.3 percent to the Wizards. Clearly, Casey's emphasis on this part of the game paid poor dividends. Still, it's not wildly different from their typical rebounding deficit, and yet they were blown out. Can't think rebounding was actually the thing to focus on.
There is one more theory, expressed in part by the Raptors' TV announcers. Kyle Lowry getting in foul trouble really hurts the Raptors because it means more Greivis Vasquez, who is just a disaster defending anyone on the Wizards. Last game the team fell apart in overtime because John Wall and Bradley Beal got whatever they wanted with Vasquez as the defender at the point of attack. In the past two seasons (prior to last night's game), the Wizards had only beat the Raptors twice - both times, including Game 1 of this series, Lowry fouled out and the Wizards won in overtime.
How about this game? Well, Lowry was once again struck by foul problems. And it killed the Raptors in this one. Lowry had a +18 net rating while on the court. Vasquez? -37.
Here's the mysterious thing though - Lowry played 27 minutes. Vasquez played 28 minutes. That adds up to more than 48, which is concerning. If you are getting destroyed by Vasquez' perimeter defence (admittedly, among other weak perimeter defenders as well), why would you have him on the court one second longer than necessary?
There's plenty of other stuff to consider as well. James Johnson played, but for the seven minutes he was on the court he didn't defend Paul Pierce for whatever reason (and Pierce sparked a huge run in that time frame, leading to JJ's team-worst net rating for the night). Jonas Valanciunas was kind of pretty great in the post, and got Marcin Gortat in foul trouble - yet had a very low usage rate nonetheless.
Any more theories? Post them in the comments, and we can all have a good old nervous breakdown together.
(Quotes from The Toronto Star. Stats from NBA.com.)