The NBA playoff match-ups are now set. The playoffs will begin Saturday, April 14. One of the series will be an Eastern Conference match-up between the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors and the No. 8 seed Washington Wizards. The Raptors are clearly the top dogs of the conference and might be the favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals. Despite battling injuries, locker room controversy, and inconsistent effort, the Wizards made it to the playoffs and will look to pull off a huge upset. Can the Raptors continue to tear through the Eastern Conference or will the Wizards stop them in their tracks? Let’s take a look at this match-up.
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards Series Preview
The teams were 2-2 in head-to-head match-ups in the regular season. The Raptors were victorious in their last meeting on March 2, 102-95. Despite a few late-season hiccups, the Raptors have been consistent. The Wizards,Â on the other hand, are limping into the playoffs, losing 7 out of their last 10 games. The Raptors are tied for third in scoring (111.7 points per game) while the Wizards are ranked 13th (106.6). Both teams are close in points allowed, rebounding, and assists per game. The Raptors have been more consistent from beyond the arc. They are third in the league in attempts (33.0 per game) but are just 18th in three-point percentage (35.8 percent).
The Raptors have enjoyed quite a stay atop the Eastern Conference. They had a historic regular season, setting a new single-season wins record. However, they have to prove they can overcome their playoff woes. This is their best shot to make it to the NBA Finals. That all starts with Kyle Lowry. Lowry is known to go cold during the playoffs. Last year, Lowry averaged 15.8 points per game, which was a large drop from his regular season average (22.4). Lowry has not played well in the past two weeks, shooting lower than 40 percent. The Raptors also need production from their bench, which is known to be one of the league’s best but has no standout players.
The obvious main factor for the Wizards will be the play of All-StarÂ John Wall. Before returning from injury on March 31, Wall missed the previous 29 games. Wall seems to be back in form. In the last two games he played, Wall averaged 28.5 points and 13.0 assists. The Wizards did not play Wall in the regular season finale against the Orlando Magic, which they lost. The Wizards need Wall. His athletic style of play will put pressure on Lowry. Also, Bradley Beal‘s performance is also key. In his last six games, Beal is shooting just 43 percent overall and 33 percent from three. Although Beal has enjoyed a good individual season, he needs to mesh once again with Wall.
Although the Raptors look like the far superior team, the Wizards are a match-up nightmare. Wall missed all four games against the Raptors and yet, the Wizards were able to win two of those games. This series will not be easy for the Raptors. It has the potential to go to 6 or 7 games, so Toronto must put the Wizards away early.
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