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Crucial Game 5 tonight in Toronto
The series shifts back to Toronto for a crucial Game 5 tonight at the ACC.
Air Canada Centre | 7:00 p.m. | NBCSW/NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards (2-2): G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter Jr., F - Morris, C - Gortat
Raptors (2-2): G - Lowry, G – DeRozan, F - Anunoby, F - Ibaka, C - Valanciunas
Raptors: Fred VanVleet (Shoulder - Questionable)
All Tied Up
Both teams have now held serve in the series and they have turned this into a best-of-three to determine a winner. After the Raps protected home court in the first two games of the series, the Wizards answered by doing the same in Game 3 and Game 4, evening the series at 2-2.
The pressure now shifts back to the Raps as they return home to Toronto, a place in which they went 34-7 during the regular season, which was the best home record in the NBA. They earned the number one seed in the conference to host games like this in their building and they'll have to take advantage of it, because if they don't they'll have to play an elimination game on Friday in Washington.
The Wizards have had opportunities to win road games over these last two postseasons, but they have struggled to do so and are now 1-8 on the road in the playoffs over the last two years. In contrast, they have won eight straight home playoff games, a streak they'll look to continue on Friday when they host Game 6 at Capital One Arena. But no matter what happens on Friday, they'll need to figure out a way to win a road game in this series, and that will likely come down to the play of their stars, John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Wall has been tremendous throughout the series and Beal really picked up his game in D.C., where he averaged 29.5 points over the two wins after being held to just nine points in Game 2 in Toronto. Beal went 9/16 from 3-point range and went 10/19 from the floor in both Game 3 and Game 4. The Wizards will need Beal to be an elite scorer again in this one tonight to have a real shot at a road win. They'll also need Wall to continue to play at the level he's shown over these last couple of games, where he's looked like the best player on the floor. Wall is first in the NBA in points created this postseason and became just the third player in NBA history to score over 100 points and dish out over 50 assists in the first four games of a playoff series (Magic Johnson, Johnny Moore).
Third Quarters Key
While the first quarters have been an issue for Washington in the series, they have dominated the third quarters, winning the last two by 11 points each. It was critical in Game 4 as they trailed by 11 going into the half, but then exploded for 40 points in the third quarter to tie the score at 80. They have a +6.2 margin in the third quarters this series and the 32.5 points they have averaged per third quarter are the most of any quarter against Toronto. A key to the Raps' Game 1 win was Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan's spark provided early in that third quarter, after the Wizards had a halftime lead, and the third quarter could once again be a big key tonight.
Raps' Bench at Home
The Raptors have relied on their second unit all season long, but when it comes to the postseason, history has shown that teams get better bench production when they are at home. It has proven true again in this series as the Raps bench played a big role in their home wins in Game 1 and Game 2, but tampered off in Game 3 and Game 4 on the road. One of their biggest bench scorers, C.J. Miles, made four 3-pointers in both home games, going 8/15 in those two games, but then went just 1/8 in the two road games from distance and was held to just two points in Sunday's Game 4. Delon Wright, who has played heavy minutes with Fred VanVleet out, scored in double figures in both home games, but averaged just 6.5 points in the two road games. The good news for Toronto is that they are now back at home and should once again see production from guys like Miles, Wright, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl. They also could get VanVleet back for Game 5 as he returned to practice on Tuesday and will be questionable for tonight's contest. If the Wizards can find a way to keep the Raps' second unit in check, it could certainly be the difference between a road win and a road loss.
Game 6 will take place on Friday night in Washington.