Though it shouldn't take much to rile up a team with playoff aspirations, the Toronto Raptors have plenty of fuel headed into tonight's matchup with the Washington Wizards. DeMar DeRozan and John Wall will see each other for the first time since Wall (possibly) snubbed DeRozan of the Eastern Conference Player of the Month award. Toronto will (again) be playing the team that swept them from the playoffs last year. And of course, the Raptors continue without DeMarre Carroll, which tends to heighten the stakes a little bit.
The Wizards obviously are still not themselves; with a record of 15-18, the basketball world is collectively waiting for this team to start making sense. Part of what makes Washington so confusing is they continue to be mediocre as John Wall plays sensational basketball. Wall has been quietly excellent for a team out of playoff position, racking up points and assists to sharpshooters Jared Dudley and Garrett Temple. The Wall-Lowry matchup is always one to watch, and as Harsh Dave pointed out in his preview earlier, it's an even bigger storyline tonight.
So, will the Wizards ever figure it out? Will teams like Orlando and Boston regress to the mean? The Eastern Conference playoff picture is a capacity party right now, and the Raptors are right in the middle of it. Tonight will be about making sure the Wizards stay outside in the cold.