Preview: Wizards open six-game road trip Monday vs. Raptors
The Wizards take on the Raptors on Monday at 7:00 P.M. at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Washington is looking to snap a three-game losing streak while Toronto, playing its 2020-21 season in Tampa due to travel restrictions, has lost 13 of its last 15 games, but is coming off a 53-point win over Golden State.
Bradley Beal (right hip contusion) and Rui Hachimura (right shoulder tightness) will not play. It will be Beal’s fifth consecutive game sidelined and Hachimura’s second. Raul Neto and Davis Bertans will start in their places.
Amalie Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Raul Neto, F – Deni Avdija, F – Davis Bertans, C – Alex Len
Raptors: G – Malachi Flynn, G – Gary Trent Jr., F – OG Anunoby, F – Pascal Siakam, C – Chris Boucher
Wizards: Bradley Beal (right hip contusion – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Daniel Gafford (right ankle sprain – out), Rui Hachimura (right shoulder tightness – out)
Raptors: Jalen Harris (right hip pointer – out), Rodney Hood (right hip flexor strain – out), Kyle Lowry (right foot infection – out), Patrick McCaw (left knee swelling – out), Fred VanVleet (left hip flexor strain – out), Paul Watson (health and safety protocols –out)
Wizards searching for shot-making answers
Washington is coming off a pair of sub-100-point performances and has shot below 30.0% from 3-point range in each of their last three games. The Wizards’ performance has clearly been impacted by absences of key offensive threats. Bradley Beal (right hip contusion) has missed the last four games, Rui Hachimura (right shoulder tightness) did not play against Dallas and Davis Bertans and Ish Smith were each on minutes restrictions Friday after extended absences. Still, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and players alike have not blamed the offensive struggles on injuries or missing contributors. The common refrain has been that the team simply needs to improve its shot-making. Over the last two games, per NBA Stats, the Wizards have an effective field goal percentage of 43.8% when open, defined as four-to-six feet from the closes defender, and 22.0% from very open, six-plus feet from the closest defender.
“We had a lot of shots that we should have knocked down,” Ish Smith said after his return to action against Dallas. “And we will knock (them) down. Obviously, we have to play with more of a pace and we’ve got to be better on that end…(Russell Westbrook) and Bradley (Beal) attract so much attention that we have to be ready and knock down those shots. It’s a miss-or-make league.”
“We didn’t make shots,” Brooks said after Saturday’s loss. “We were 5-25 (from three), we had 48 attempts at the rim, didn’t get to the free throw line and didn’t make enough layups.”
Washington opens six-game trip
In need of a win, the Wizards now face their longest road trip of the season. Monday night’s game is the first of six consecutive road games for the Wizards, beginning with a pair of games in Florida before heading west. After taking on the Raptors in Tampa, Washington will face Orlando on Wednesday night before flying west for matchups with Golden State (Friday), Phoenix (Saturday), Utah (Monday) and Sacramento (Wednesday). The Wizards played well on their only prior West Coast trip of the season, going 3-1 and earning wins over the Trail Blazers, Lakers and Nuggets, but have struggled on the road in general this season. To date, Washington is 7-15 away from home and has lost six straight.
Struggling Raptors hope blowout win provides a boost
Toronto is looking to carry momentum over from their 53-point win over Golden State on Friday night, the largest margin of victory in the NBA since December 8, 2018. Led by a combined 81 points from Pascal Siakam (36), Gary Trent Jr. (24) and OG Anunoby (21), the Raptors won 130-77 over the Warriors. For Siakam, who leads the Raptors with 20.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season, it was his first 30-point performance since February 8. In addition to the game-high 36 points, he recorded seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals. The win, however, came on the heels of a 1-13 stretch in March in which their minus-7.5 net rating ranked 28th in the NBA. The team’s struggles over the last month have been driven by their inability to gets stops on the defensive end. Toronto’s 117.4 defensive rating in March ranked 29th in the league.