By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards return home for a bout with the Raptors tonight at Verizon Center (6:00pm | TV: CSN+ | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The season series is tied at 1-1.
The Wizards will see plenty of the Raptors over the next few days as they host them tonight at Verizon Center and then go back to Air Canada Centre on Wednesday to wrap up the season series. Both teams have already won on each others court and they are just one game apart in the standings which should make these last two exciting.
In their last meeting on February 25th, the Wizards went to Toronto and took care of business, winning 90-84 behind 20 points from Bradley Beal. They may have to play tonight without Beal as he has missed the last five games with a sprained ankle. In that game, they held Rudy Gay to just 1-11 shooting and seven points, while holding the Raptors to just 37% shooting.
The Raptors were hot when the Wizards last saw them in February, but they have cooled down since as they just snapped a five-game losing streak with a win in Detroit on Friday night. Gay went for 21 points and has scored 20+ points in four of the Raptors last six games. He will once again be a focal point for the Raptors tonight and will be someone the Wizards need to account for when setting up their defensive schemes.
Besides Gay, DeMar DeDerozan is another weapon the Raptors possess and the Wizards have seen this first hand. In the two games against Washington, DeRozan is averaging 24.5 points per game on 18/35 shooting from the floor. He can play above the rim or knock down shots from the perimeter, though he shoots just 25% from three-point range. He will usually get off his shots one way or another, so the Wizards will want to force him into tough shots.
The Wizards enter tonight's game having lost back-to-back games for the first time since March 6th & 8th. Wednesday night they were severely undermanned in Oklahoma City, but they did get some bodies back for Friday night's clash in Orlando. However, their road woes continued and they lost a game against a Magic team that had lost eight straight entering that contest. They will look to get back to their winning ways in a building where they have won six in a row and are 15-4 since John Wall returned in January.
Nene and Bradley Beal will be gametime decisions tonight.
The action kicks off at 6:00pm
John Wall is averaging 25.3 points, 8.9 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game in his last 11 games. He is shooting .495 from the field, .571 from three-point range and .828 from the free throw line during this stretch. He has five double-doubles in his last 11 games and is coming off a 35 point performance in Orlando.
Tonight he goes up against a versatile point guard in Kyle Lowry. He is a guard that does a little bit of everything as he'll help on the glass, dish the ball out, and score when he needs to. Now that Jose Calderon is gone he has taken over the offense in Toronto. He had 11 points and 10 assists in the last Wizards-Raptors meeting and the Wizards will need to keep Lowry in check to slow down the Raptors attack on offense.
John Wall is a nominee for Kia Player of the Month for March:
In the clip below, Wall scored 47 points: