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Many second chances help Wizards take Game 1

Raptors lose home court after giving up 19 offensive rebounds

POSTED: Apr 18, 2015 6:39 PM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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If the Raptors expect to win Game 2 they must keep the Wizards' Marcin Gortat and Paul Pierce off of the glass.

— The Raptors and Wizards combined to shoot 26-for-103 (25 percent) from outside the paint on Saturday in a campaign to both ban early start times and change the playoff format to keep two floundering Eastern Conference teams from playing each other in the first round.

You could say that both teams played great defense. But as anyone who thought DeAndre Jordan deserved Defensive Player of the Year consideration will tell you, the defensive possession doesn't end until you secure a rebound. The Raptors didn't do that enough, and that's why they're in a 0-1 hole after the Wizards' 93-86, overtime victory.

Washington grabbed 19 offensive rebounds in Game 1, turning them into 20 second-chance points. The Raptors allowed only 73 points on 96 initial possessions, but the second chances made the difference.

The Raptors used a 21-8 run to send the game to overtime. But on the first possession of the extra period, Otto Porter tipped a John Wall miss out to Bradley Beal. The second chance resulted in a Paul Pierce three that gave the Wizards the lead for good.

Later in the overtime, Nene grabbed offensive boards on three straight possessions. Only one of them produced points for the Wizards, but the all kept the Raptors from building on the offensive momentum from the fourth quarter.

"They got three straight offensive rebounds that broke our back," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "That took our will, our mojo that we had going in [to overtime]."

The Wizards averaged 28 seconds per possession on their first six possessions of the extra period, helping them build a seven-point lead and sending Raptors' raucous crowd to the exits.

Jonas Valanciunas' solution for the rebounding problem was simple.

"Be tougher than them," he said. "Show that we can battle."

There were times when a Raptors big got pushed around under the basket. But most of the Wizards' offensive rebounds were more about how many Toronto bigs were actually in position to "be tougher" and "battle."

The Raptors mostly sent two guys to the ball on Washington pick-and-rolls, which left three guys guarding four on the back side. If the extra defender doesn't recover fast enough, some offensive player has a clear path to a rebound. And even if he does, a switch might result in a guard trying to box out a Washington big.

The Porter tip-out on the first possession of overtime came because two guys were guarding Beal 25 feet from the basket (on a late pick-and-roll) and Patrick Patterson (who was guarding Porter) had to rotate out to Wall on the right wing.

Other offensive boards when Toronto bigs needed to help a teammate who couldn't keep his man contained on the perimeter.

You don't need to defend the Wizards aggressively on the outside. No playoff team shot worse than Washington from outside the paint after the All-Star break. And only the Knicks shot a greater percentage of their shots from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line) than the Wizards did.

This is not a team that's going to beat you from the outside. They will take bad shots if you let them. But if you take yourself out of position, they will take advantage on the glass.

According to SportVU data, Wizards guard John Wall shot the ball after just three of the 36 ball screens he came off of. That's not a good number for Toronto.

The Raptors have had defensive issues for months. They were a top-10 defensive team last season, but fell into the bottom 10 this year.

"We've changed our schemes about three or four times this year, trying to find new defensive advantages," Casey said. "We've changed how we rotate, who we rotate to, a lot of different things, trying to find the answer."

In general, the Raptors defended better on Saturday. Even with all the offensive boards, they held the Wizards under a point per possession. But Washington is a team that's used to winning ugly. And Toronto will need to be better, having lost home-court advantage in Game 1 of the playoffs for the second straight year.

And to be better on the glass, they have to be smarter on the perimeter.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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