Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Retooled Raptors ready for playoff rematch with Wizards

Retooled Raptors ready for playoff rematch with Wizards

This season officially started at the year-end press conference after the second-round sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Raptors cleaned a lot of that up after halftime, and their world-destroying bench did their usual damage in a 114-106 win.

It was just two minutes and 11 seconds of game time, but it felt like the Raptors had just turned the perception of their team on its ear.

The Toronto Raptors' quest for the franchise's first National Basketball Association championship gets underway Saturday afternoon at Air Canada Center. "How many years ago has that been?" This has been an on-going concern for the duo: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry consistently underperform when the calendar rolls to April and May. I thought it was good.

The Wizards led 91-88 early in the fourth quarter, but things turned in the favor of the Raptors after Scott was called for a flagrant foul, following an elbow that took down Lowry.

"We got Game 1, as we should", DeMar DeRozan said after the game. We can't make those mistakes.

The betting markets certainly aren't sleeping on the Toronto Raptors extended stretch of playoff failures. Nogueria only played in 49 games this season, but he has real National Basketball Association skills and performed well during his nine minutes, all in the second half. Nor even the team that lost last season's opener.

"I think the coaches did a good job of keeping us in the rotation all year whether we were playing 12 guys or not".

Wall has played back-to-back games once since returning to action on March 31, and he may have a hard time defensively opposite Toronto's Kyle Lowry in the point guard matchup.

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But none of it mattered in this Game 1. On Saturday, they had 26 assists on 41 field goals.

DeRozan shot 2-for-5 from 3-point range, but it was more important that he created open looks for his teammates.

The speedy Wall averaged 19.4 points and 9.6 assists this season.

Closing time: Dwane Casey started the fourth quarter with a Kyle Lowry-plus-reserves lineup, making the decision to bring in Lucas Nogueira with 10:02 remaining.

Wizards: Wall had six assists in the second quarter and 10 in the first half. "Well, we didn't expect (Delon) Wright to come in here, come off the bench and give them 18 or 20 points".

Miles, who hasn't been here for the Game 1 streak, understood the importance of winning.

Said Scott: "I thought we did it to ourselves. It's the first step in the journey".

The Bucks will also have the best player in the series, forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I found previous year that teams with this advantage do win somewhat more often than their team stats would suggest.

There were several scenarios depending on how Game 1 turned out. In 2015, it was an 0-4 ATS Run as they got swept and in 2014, the Raptors covered only two pointspreads while getting eliminated in the first round in seven games. Instead, the Raptors won the way they have all season, and for that, they've earned that reset of expectations. One of those three guys we can use in that position. "On home court, we're supposed to win, and that's our mindset", he said.

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