Game Preview: Raptors vs Wizards

Holly MacKenzie -

Toronto Raptors (2-0) @ Washington Wizards (0-1)

When: Saturday, October 20th, 7 P.M. ET

Where: Capital One Arena

Leading into tonight:

Injury Report: For the Raptors, Delon Wright is questionable with a strained left adductor. For the Wizards, Dwight Howard is questionable with gluteal soreness. 

Back-to-back: Saturday’s game against the Wizards will be Toronto’s first back-to-back of the season. The Raptors are in Washington after a 113-101 victory against the Boston Celtics in Toronto on Friday night. This will be the second consecutive home game for the Wizards who opened the season on their home floor with a 113-112 loss to the Miami Heat.

Third quarter push: Kawhi Leonard scored 15 of his 31 points (to go along with 10 rebounds) in the third quarter of Toronto’s victory against the Boston Celtics. He shot 5-for-7 from the floor in the quarter. “He did a little bit of everything, right?” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “He hit a three or two, one or two threes in that quarter, he took a couple in transition to the basket and he had a couple of isolation post-up plays. Again, that’s kind of his versatility, I think there’s some growth to be done with his screen and roll game, right? I think we can get him up the floor and get him into some more screen and rolls … he’s got a really good handle on it, he hasn’t really busted that out yet but he can do that as well.” 

Extra Assists

Interchangeable rules: Through the first two games of the regular season, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has continued his preseason preference of mixing up lineups and making quick substitutions. Having a truly versatile team is something he considers to be a huge asset. “We should be able to play with any lineup,” he said. “If there's any matchup that doesn't look good to us, we should be able to throw somebody out there and play and if there's an injury or two we ought to be able to plug in and relax a little bit. Put the guys out there and have confidence that guy can play that position, knows the coverages, the sets, the inbounds plays, whatever they are and just play.” Though players knowing their role can be an important part of team success and cohesion, Nurse and his coaching staff are hoping as the season goes on that players realize how much lineup versatility can help everyone.“To me no matter what the scenario is you've got to be able to go out there and play,” Nurse said. “[Whether] it's a back-to-back, it's two on the road, it's five in eight days, played 12 minutes last night and 30 tonight. You've got to be able to play when called upon and give the team what we need when called upon."

One game at a time: Saturday’s game will be the first time the Raptors have faced the Wizards since a Game 6 victory in Washington to win their first-round series 4-2 last spring. Fred VanVleet is not giving too much time to looking in the rearview mirror thinking about last season, though. “I don’t really get into that too much,” he said. “We just know that’s a tough team coming off a back-to-back. We’ve got to go on the road and that’s a hard place to play. It wasn’t like that was an easy series by any means. We know what Washington brings to the table. They had a tough game [Thursday night] against Miami, so we’ll be prepared for that.”

Ibaka coming up big: Serge Ibaka was huge for Toronto in Friday’s victory against the Celtics. Joining the starting lineup, Ibaka scored 21 points in 34 minutes. He was extremely efficient, shooting 10-of-14 from the floor, and he added six rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. “He is flying high for rebounds, and big ones [too],” Nick Nurse said. “He didn’t have a lot [of rebounds] during the course of the game, but he had some impactful ones in the fourth quarter. Our rebounding certainly needed a lift and he went and got some for us.” The Raptors were a +16 when Ibaka was on the floor.

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