The playoffs are all about matchups.
Washington entered the postseason with the 19th-rated offense in the NBA. On Tuesday night, the Raptors allowed the Wizards to score 117 points on 53% shooting, and now Washington is leaving Toronto with a 2-0 series lead.
John Wall scored 26 points, and backcourt mate Bradley Beal added 28 of his own as the Wizards dominated the middle two quarters en route to a 117-106 win over the Raptors. Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry was held in check for the second straight game, scoring only six points before leaving the game with a shin contusion.
The Wizards were able to buoy their typically stagnant offense by knifing into the paint on pick-and-rolls. Wall went to the free throw line 11 times, and also found some space on midrange jump shots. Beal, normally known for his sharpshooting behind the three-point line, made six of his 12 field goals from the paint.
Defensive issues aside, Toronto will also need much more from Lowry if it hopes to make this series competitive. Lowry had only 13 points on 6-for-21 shooting in series’ first two games, and now he is battling a knee injury.
The Raptors’ bench looked to be an advantage heading into the series, but their backups have struggled as the Wizards’ starters have played more minutes. Grevis Vasquez played 28 minutes Tuesday, and was a minus-22 in his time on the floor.
Washington got a solid boost from its bench, with Otto Porter making a notable contribution. The Georgetown product scored 15 points and played 35 minutes. Paul Pierce, the Game 1 hero, scored 10.
[daily_cut.NBA]The game got away from Toronto in the second and third quarters, as Washington scored 71 points in the middle 24 minutes. The Wizards' 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter was large enough to withstand a small surge from the Raptors late in the game.
As the series moves to Washington for two games, the Wizards have appeared to find new offensive life by playing small and having Porter and Pierce man the forward positions. Toronto countered in Game 2 by bringing in James Johnson, but he hardly made an impact in seven minutes.
It’s now the Wizards’ series to lose.
Wall has won his matchup with Lowry, and Randy Wittman has handcuffed Dwane Casey with his decision to go small.
The Raptors entered this series with an offense that played much better than the Wizards this season, but if the Raptors can’t find any matchups to exploit heading forward, this series may not make it back to Toronto.