TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 14: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors and John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards talk during the game in Game One of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 14, 2018 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards look back at Game 1, turn focus to Tuesday

The day after Game 1, two things stood out to Scott Brooks and the Wizards about Saturday’s 114-106 loss: mistakes turning into transition opportunities and guarding the perimeter.

“The bottom line is they [the Raptors] played well,” Brooks said before practice on Sunday. “We played hard, but we made a couple of critical mistakes. Some of our turnovers led to easy transition buckets. And then we lost some of their shooters in transition.”

The Raptors made a playoff franchise record 16 3-pointers in Game 1, shooting 53.3% from deep. The Wizards were able to slow down All-Stars Kyle Lowry (11 points on 4-of-9 shooting and five turnovers) and DeMar DeRozan (17 points on 6-of-17 shooting), but it was the Raptors’ other guys who got the job done.

Serge Ibaka finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds, C.J. Miles hit four triples, and Delon Wright scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Ibaka’s scoring ability for his size and Miles’ shooting are well-documented, but Wright’s not a guy known for his 3-point shooting. Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby, both not known as deep threats, were also able to combine for three more of the 16 triples. The Wizards admittedly gave the Raptors too many open looks, contesting on 22 of the Raptors’ 30 3-point attempts.

“Certain things we’re going to have to pick our poison,” Brooks said. “Some of their shooters – who are not great shooters – stepped up and made shots. The mistakes that we had on their shooters, we can’t make those mistakes. Those are shots, when their feet are set, are 50% shots.”

Washington was able to limit turnovers most of the game, but three key turnovers in the fourth quarter led to eight Raptors points. Wright and Miles both made triples off bad passes in transition. The little things catch up to you most in the playoffs, as every possession matters. Simple mistakes like a bad pass, a missed tip, or giving a shooter any little bit of space can be costly.

“Those little mental mistakes – you have to be locked in and focused on every play in the playoffs,” Wall said on Sunday. “It really shows and tells that it means something when you take a play off or a couple of plays off.”

Still, the Wizards felt like they played well, staying in the game after withstanding a big run in the first quarter and fighting back after a strong Toronto start to the third quarter. John Wall had 23 points and 15 assists despite only shooting 6-of-20 from the field, and Markieff Morris and Mike Scott stepped up at center with Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi in foul trouble in the first half.

“We feel like we didn’t even play our best basketball, we didn’t shoot the ball well from three,” Wall said. “They shot over 50%, and we still gave ourselves a chance to win.”

The Wizards have now turned their attention to Game 2, learning from what they experienced in a tough atmosphere in Toronto. They went through film from Game 1 to kick off practice on Sunday, followed by on-court drills and shooting. Washington will practice again on Monday and shootaround on Tuesday prior to the second game of the series.

A Game 2 win would certainly turn the series in a different direction, and going home down 2-0 to the No. 1 seed in the East would be a tough task. The Wizards will look to clean up their turnovers during crucial possessions, focus on transition defense, and take a closer look at their defensive schemes in defending the Raptors’ shooting.

“What we wanted to do was to come steal Game 1,” Wall said. “They had all of the right and all of the momentum to try to get Game 1. They had homecourt advantage – they definitely used that to the best of their ability in that game. Now all we have to do is to focus on trying to win Game 2.”