Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a brand new series.
After a surprising Game 4, the Wizards have tied the series 2-2 after a 106-98 win. Their leading scorer was Bradley Beal with 31 points, who got fouled out on a debatable call with nearly five minutes remaining. However, this was no problem for John Wall as he carried the Wizards to the finish line with 27 points and 14 assists.
The Raptors, on the other hand, led for most of the game and appeared to be in control of the game. DeMar DeRozan, who had 35 points, struggled to score in the final minutes of the game due to the strong defense of the Wizards. They disrupted the Raptors’ ball movement forced them to take bad shots, and the Raptors missed a lot of open shots.
Now, both the Wizards and the Raptors have won each of their home games in the first four games, tying the series 2-2.
Game 5 is going to be played in Toronto, and it will be a key game for both teams. If Toronto wins, they have two chances to close it out on the road or at home in Game 7. If the Wizards capture the victory, they must finish this series at home in Game 6. Otherwise, it would be very tough to steal a road win in the final game.
Objectives to win the Game:
The Raptors must use home-court advantage to their favor. With Games 5 and 7 in Toronto, and both teams winning their home games, both of these games (if Game 7 is needed) are a must-win for the Raptors.
Kyle Lowry has been awfully inconsistent and struggling in the postseason. He is averaging 15 points, 8 assists, and nearly 4 turnovers. He must show up and be able to provide on the offensive end as an option alongside DeRozan.
Despite strong performances in the next two games from the Raptors’ bench, they played terrible in Games 3 and 4. With a team that relies on their role players to play significant minutes off the bench and contribute with offense, they cannot disappear like they did in the past two games if they want to advance to the second round. Bench players like Delon Wright and CJ Miles cannot depend on DeMar DeRozan to score over 30 points every game. They must be able to provide when asked to and knock down open 3-pointers.
The Wizards must continue their success from the end of the 4th quarter into Game 5. They have nothing to lose. They are the eighth seed who are not expected to move on and are still able to compete and win against the Raptors.
One thing that they did really well in Game 4 was slow down DeRozan. Even though he scored 35 points, he shot an inefficient 10-29 from the field. It seems that they have found a way to stop DeRozan, but the Wizards should expect his supporting cast to be a threat for the Raptors on offense as well.
After struggling on Games 1 and 2, Bradley Beal has caught on fire from behind the arc in Washington. Beal should look to put that debatable sixth foul out the window and bring his hot stroke into Toronto. In the past two games against the Raptors, he has combined to make 9-16 three-pointers, which is nearly over 56 percent.
John Wall has proved to be unstoppable offensively in the playoffs. He is averaging 26 points and 13 assists, and was able to hit clutch shots when the Wizards needed him.
Overall, I expect the Raptors to win this series in six games, but it should definitely be no surprise if the Wizards force it to seven games.