The Raptors hope that Lowry gets back into All Star form on Friday in Game 3 at Washington
Next Game: GAME 3- Friday April 24th 8:00pm EST at Verizon Center Washington DC (aired on TSN)
Game 2 Rap-Up
The Raptors came out of the gate with guns blazing again. Derozan hitting shots, Valanciunas sinking lay up alley oops and Lowry was controlling the play. Just as Raptors fans were planning their victory parties the Wizards decided to wake up in the second quarter. The Wizards outscored the Raptors 34-18 in the second quarter shifting the momentum and turned the energized Raptors into bullied little brothers on the court. The Wizards didn’t look back as they continued to dominate the boards and began to heat up from 3 point range. John Wall had 26 points and 17 assists, Bradley Beal scored 28 points, Marcin Gortat scored 16 points, Otto Porter had 15 and Paul Pierce added 10 for the Wizards. The Wizards embarrassed the Toronto Raptors 117-106 on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
When Kyle Lowry began getting in foul trouble again and was taken out of the game the Raptors looked rudderless. Greivis lacked his usual pizazz and his turtle like speed was exposed on several fast breaks. Ross continued to show ineffective defense having players like Otto Porter and Bradley Beal looking like All Stars. It continues to confuse Raptors fans on why Dwayne Casey has him starting on this team despite being a complete non factor in both games. At least Hansbrough had energy and came out with some life in him. This is more than we can say for Amir who looked like he needed a walker the way defenders were flying by him and his inability to get to the basket. Some positives was how Derozan was hitting shots at the start but as only Derozan does, he channels his inner Vince Carter and starts settling for jumpers. Lou Williams and Jonas Valanciunas seemed like the only two players who seemed to care or were not ready to lay down and die. Jonas Valanciunas finished the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Sixth Man Award winner Lou Williams and DeMar DeRozan each scored 20 points for the Raptors, who have lost four straight playoff games over the past two seasons.
The Mental Game
The Raptors are not only losing in the series they are also losing the mental game. Paul Pierce has gotten in their heads. You see how he was getting under Amir’s skin. The Raptors who are usually efficient free throw shooters left 11 crucial points unaccounted for at the charity stripe. The Raptors are playing scared or unsure of themselves. You saw that when Bradley Beal was trash talking Lowry and getting the best of him throughout the game. When the Wizards are throwing down dunks, getting steals and blocking shots they are showing they have “IT”. The Wizards are playing like the team to beat despite the Raptors winning all 3 games this regular season and finishing with a higher seed in the East. Home court advantage is long gone, now it’s time for the Raptors to see if they have enough gumption to make this a series.
Game 3 Analysis
We are not going to make the second round without Lowry being Lowry. He has truly become a shell of his former all-star self. We need him bulling his way to the basket and slow down the hyper quick John Wall. He left the game with a shin injury and hasn’t looked completely healthy but at this point its now or never so he needs to muster up a gem to get this team on track.
Derozan was doing what he needed to do and began attracting double teams in Game 2. We need him to get it going again and help facilitate other players to get going. Valanciunas needs to be our x-factor. Even when he was not sinking shots he was pushing people around, getting foul calls and getting quality looks. Dwayne Casey needs to stop sitting him half the game and start using this weapon. Jonas only played 29 minutes of the 48 minute game. He is the only 7 footer out there who stays under the rim and does anything to stop 2nd chance points. Dwayne Casey and his player usage will be scrutinized if these playoff losses continue. Patrick Patterson continues to prove he is an effective scorer inside and outside yet he sees himself on monitored minutes.
The Raptors need to find themselves again, the team that won by out hustling their opponents. The team that followed their shots, moved the ball and sank open threes, the team that battled on the inside for loose balls and rebounds. The Raptors are already endangered and will need a full team effort to prevent from becoming extinct.
Let’s Go Raptors!
GAME 3- Friday April 24th 8:00pm EST at Verizon Center Washington DC (aired on TSN)