John Wall looked unstoppable at times (delivering 29 points), Mike Scott apparently morphed into Reggie Miller somewhere between last Friday and now, and Toronto broke a total of four franchise records on offense. It was a night to remember. Where do we begin?
Let’s fast forward to the third quarter:
Despite leading the Wizards by 23 points in the second quarter, the Raptors’ offensive juggernaut — which made 11 total 3’s in the first half — slowed down late in the third, and that malaise followed them deep into the fourth.
The Wizards chipped away an 18-point third-quarter deficit until they found themselves down just five points at the eight-minute mark of the final frame. The Air Canada Centre was frenetic. Panic washed over every Raptor fan, accompanied by the familiar sense of dread — but it wasn’t long before faith was restored.
Because these aren’t the same old Raptors.
Before the Wizards could even comprehend the 108-103 score, one which they worked so hard to achieve, the ball raced down the court and found itself in the hands of veteran shooter C.J. Miles — who ripped the net with a back-breaking 30-footer, resulting in an immediate Scott Brooks timeout.
The moment for which Washington fought so hard was suddenly gone. The momentum, the fight, the hope — it all drained away with that Miles jumper (which was the first 3-pointer Toronto made in the second half at that point). “C.J. Miles hit a big shot, a long three,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, somehow underselling the moment. “Give him credit, he stepped up and made it. That was a big shot for them — momentum shifted after he made the shot.”
On the flip side, it was the type of shot Raptors fans — no, the entire team — needed in that moment. It was the last straw for a Washington team struggling to find cohesion all night; bickering and pointing fingers during timeouts while Toronto launched it’s offensive onslaught (finishing with a playoff franchise record 130 points). Miles, who had 18 points off the bench, provided the final dagger that killed the Wizards’ hopes of stealing a game from the Raptors.
And then came the block.
Just moments following the demoralizing triple, Delon Wright delivered a Lowry-like defensive play on John Wall — an electric denial which leaked out to DeMar DeRozan (game-high 37 points), who drilled a short jumper to push the lead back up to ten.
GET THAT GAHBAGE OUTTA HERE pic.twitter.com/sE13dtDtUF— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 18, 2018
Finally, a few minutes down the line, with the Raptors in control (but still searching for the clincher), Wright served up the game’s exclamation point — slamming down an emphatic alley-oop, courtesy of Morpheus.
Inundated by the crowd’s raucous whoops and hollers, we could hear Washington’s death rattle. The game was over in this moment:
HUSTLE— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 18, 2018
So, at the cost of a few moments of familiar worry and anxiety, fans were treated to one of the most exciting finishes of the team’s playoff history — bar none.
Next comes the real test — a Game 3 back in D.C. Folks say the series doesn’t begin until a team steals a win on the road. Washington couldn’t accomplish the feat, but can Toronto? See you Friday.