One of the great things about the NBA regular season — of which their are a few, if you can believe that — is the opportunity for second chances. Yes, it’s true. And somewhere at the bottom of their thoughts, the Raptors are surely thinking about that in relation to the team they play this afternoon: the Washington Wizards.
It was just two weeks ago when the Raptors got beat up by the Wizards. It was an ugly game filled with turnovers, errants shots and passes, a typical slow start, and a false comeback to give us empty hope. On top of that, Kyle Lowry got himself ejected, and the Wiz’s John Wall — perhaps the most talented player on both teams — did not play.
Well now, here we are again. Second chances! John Wall still might not play this afternoon (he called his performance against the Heat on Friday “butt”), the Raptors are looking for some redemption, and as Toronto is now riding a three game winning streak, I have a bold prediction: they’re going to get it.
Here’s everything you need to know about today’s Wizards-Raptors showdown.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet One 3:30pm EST
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Washington - Tim Frazier, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat
Toronto - Delon Wright (shoulder), [but really Serge and Norm could be here too, we don’t know so I’m being optimistic]
Washington - John Wall (questionable!), Sheldon Mac (a real guy!)
Kyle Lowry Bounce Back
Here’s what happened: the Raptors got wiped out by the Wizards two weeks ago. Lowry got ejected. And we were sad. These are true facts. But, they are not the end of the story — and Lowry is not the kind of player to let someone else get the last word.
Since that game: the Raptors have gone 5-1, and Lowry has averaged 19.5 points, 8.2 assists, and 6.2 rebounds, with shooting splits of 51/44/96. He’s been the dynamite shooter and playmaker the Raptors needed, and for whom they were waiting desperately. He’s exhibited an insanely entertaining chemistry with every guy he’s played with — OG Anunoby out there looking like a vet, Pascal Siakam getting easy runout buckets, Lucas Nogueira finishing lobs, etc. I think my point here is, do not underestimate the ability of Kyle Lowry.
So now, against the Wizards, a team that has given the Raptors fits in the past (who, yes, may be playing without John Wall, fine, whatever), are here again. And so is, I believe, the best version of Kyle Lowry.
Who Is It This Time?
Now I’ve got to bring it down again. The Raptors are without Delon Wright, my little brother, for the foreseeable future. He dislocated his surgically repaired shoulder which, as you can imagine, is not good. It’s a blow to his career, and a blow to the Raptors right now. On the minuscule (super small, tiniest of tiny) bright sides: the Raptors are a deep team. And losing Wright for some time will not be impossible to weather. (It just really sucks.)
In that same two week stretch, the one in which the Raptors have gone 5-1, they’ve seen tremendous performances from all over the place. DeMar DeRozan has been his usual superlative self (shooting 49 percent from the field, and 37 percent from deep on 3.2 attempts per game, by the way), and even without Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell for a few games to back him up, the rest of the team has fallen into place. C.J. Miles is shooting 48 percent from deep, OG has slid into the starting lineup and hardly missed a beat, Siakam is converting people into believers, Fred VanVleet is picking up the slack, and now we even get to see how Alfonzo McKinnie and Lorenzo Brown fit in.
Obviously, the Raptors want everyone healthy. But it says something about the organization’s fortitude that the whole “next man up” ethos is something that can be put into practice. It’ll be interesting (and... fun?) to watch who will pop up next to help the Raps win.
Culture Watch Once Again
This is a fun subplot of the Raptors’ season so far. I swear we’re going to turn it into a weekly column, but let’s recap things here first. For those keeping track, here are some of the fun “new culture” stats of the collective Raptors:
- 10th in three-pointers attempted (good!)
- 11th in three-pointers made (pretty good!)
- 19th in three-point percentage (not great, Bob!)
- 8th in assists (frankly, amazing!)
- 12th in assists percentage (unbelievable!)
- 14th in defensive rating (not bad, but needs improvement)
- 3rd in offensive rating (literally astounding!)
- 4th in net rating (a healthy sign of good things!)
How will the Raptors place after this game? This week? This month? Culture Watch is on it. Now, let’s, uh, watch.