Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
Wizards conclude two-game trip Friday night in Toronto
The Wizards (13-27) conclude their two-game road trip Friday night against the Raptors (26-14) at 7:00 P.M. at Scotiabank Arena. The Wizards are looking to rebound from a loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night while Toronto is coming off a nine-point win over the Thunder.
Scotiabank Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Gary Payton II, G – Bradley Beal, F – Thomas Bryant, C – Ian Mahinmi
Raptors: G – Kyle Lowry, G – OG Anunoby, F – Pascal Siakam, F – Serge Ibaka, C – Marc Gasol
Wizards: Rui Hachimura (groin injury – out), Garrison Mathews (sprained right ankle – out), Moritz Wagner (sprained left ankle – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Raptors: Dewan Hernandez (right ankle sprain – out), Fred VanVleet (right hamstring strain – questionable)
Bryant effective in limited minutes
Wednesday against the Bulls, Thomas Bryant played in his second game since missing over a month with a right foot stress reaction, and did so from a new position. Bryant started from the four spot and, for the first time ever, did so alongside center Ian Mahinmi. Bryant came out strong, scoring all five of his points in the first 3:05 of play, but didn’t play much due to a minutes restriction.
“I knew he only had about 15-16 minutes, so we wanted to get him in early,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. “I thought the first half was good, second half wasn’t as good, but he’s still getting his legs, conditioning and timing down. I was going to play him late in the game and use him as a three or four if we needed him as another offensive player. The way the game ended, we didn’t want to put him back in.”
It is yet to be seen where Bryant will fall in the rotation on Friday night, but he will have his work cut out for him against an imposing Raptors frontcourt. Marc Gasol (99.6) and Pascal Siakam (103.1) are each among the league’s best paint players in defensive rating.
Payton II’s success on the road
Since joining the Wizards on December 23, Gary Payton II’s energy and defense have galvanized the Wizards efforts on that end of the court. Payton II has totaled 23 steals and is top-three in the league in deflections, averaging four per game. And while his defensive abilities grab attention, Payton II has proven himself to be a plenty capable offensive threat as well, scoring in double figures in five of his 12 games while shooting just 5.7 shots per game. Payton II’s offensive production, however, is notably better on the road. Away from Capital One Arena, Payton II is averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 assists per game to the 5.4 points and 2.0 assists he averages at home. The sample size is smaller – four road games to eight home games – but even Payton II’s shooting rates peak during road games. He is shooting 50.0% from the field on the road to 45.2% at home – and perhaps in his most notable home-road differential, is shooting 62.5% from three on the road to just 25.0% at home.
Raptors nearing full strength
While no team can quite match the volume of injuries the Wizards have dealt with this season, the Raptors have made their case in the last month. Shortly after Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka returned from extended absences earlier in this season, Toronto has seen Marc Gasol (hamstring strain), Norman Powell (left shoulder subluxation), Pascal Siakam (groin strain) and Fred VanVleet miss multiple games due to injury. Gasol missed 12 games while Powell and Siakam each missed 11 games. The Raptors’ Wednesday win over the Oklahoma City Thunder marked the first time since December 18 that all three played in the game – and the results showed. Toronto got 20-point performances out of Siakam, Powell and OG Anunoby, led by as many as 30 points and went on to win 130-121. As a team, the Raptors shot 61.2% from the field and 55.6% from 3-point range in the win.
Of that group, the only player left on the Toronto injury report is VanVleet, who has missed the four games with a right hamstring strain and is questionable for Friday’s game.