The last time these two teams shared the floor at Capital One Arena, the Raptors eliminated the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. But both teams went through both minor and major changes over the summer. We know by now the changes the Raptors made by adding a special player in Kawhi Leonard, but the Wizards added their own special player — at least in the eyes of Bradley Beal, who recently compared Jeff Green to LeBron James.
Bradley Beal is HYPED on Jeff Green: "Jeff is a star, man, because he’s built like LeBron and almost plays like him."— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) October 12, 2018
"I never told him that, but I think he should know it." pic.twitter.com/N9c5Z7X27i
Not only did they add Jeff Green, they also added NBA journeyman Dwight Howard. No, journeyman is a bit disrespectful to someone like Howard. How about: they added a former all-star that played for three different teams in the last three years (much better).
The veteran centre has proven to be a bit of a Raptor Killer over the years, but has also proven to switch off during games for weeks at a time. A focused Howard is as devastating as ever and that’s why he still gets those looks from teams across the league.
But let’s be honest here — the Wizards always show some promise on paper and always flame out. Their game against Miami had a sequence at the end in which John Wall blocks a Josh Richardson layup causing a shot-clock violation, followed by a missed three, to playing great defense again only to give up an offensive rebound and score. I mean, how “Wizards” is that?
Anyways, Toronto has taken Washington’s lunch money for the last three years, so let’s see if the new-look Raptors continue their dominance.
Here’s the details for tonight’s game:
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:00pm (EST)
Raptors – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas
Wizards – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Ian Mahinmi
Raptors – Chris Boucher (head – day-to-day), Delon Wright (thigh – day-to-day)
Wizards – Dwight Howard (back – game-time decision)
On the Road
Last year the Raptors finished with a 25-16 record away from the ACC (now Scotiabank Arena), good for second in the conference. Tonight’s game against the Wizards is their first on the road this season after winning their first two at home.
For the most part, the Raptors have been playing the free-flowing offense that only the bench was known for last year. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard have fit in almost flawlessly and have brought their experience from San Antonio. But playing on the road is a different beast — and it’s against the team you eliminated from the post-season, meaning they’re looking for revenge.
The Raptors have essentially brought back the same team from last year that was great on the road, but this should be their first — albeit not against a juggernaut — tough road test.
If you’ve been watching closely this season, it seems that Fred VanVleet has been a lot more aggressive attacking the rim than years past. In the season opener against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night, Fred shot 6-of-14 for 14 points. In his game last night against the Celtics, he shot 4-of-11 for 11 points.
Against Cleveland he took more shots than anyone not named Kawhi Leonard. In the game against the Celtics, he took the third most shots on the team. Whether it is by design from the coaching staff or if it’s a new part of Fred’s game, keep an eye on his shot attempts, which means he could be contributing more when it comes to scoring.
Who’s Starting Tonight?
Opening night featured Jonas Valanciunas at centre. Against the Celtics it was Serge Ibaka. The depth and positional versatility this squad has is phenomenal.
Coach Nick Nurse has said time and time again that the starting lineup will be dynamic and will be determined by who the opponent is that night. Against the Wizards, it’s most likely to be Valanciunas to start, but Ibaka could end up getting most of the minutes. Whether it is Mahinmi or Howard matching up, the Raptors will need to have someone to help on the boards (which has looked like a problem early so far).
But isn’t it great that Raptors have an option for both mobile bigs and bruiser bigs? We will ultimately see how this idea of an ever-changing starting-five fares during the course of the season.