Toronto at Washington
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN 2)
Spread: WAS -1.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Toronto Raptors have absolutely dominated the Washington Wizards through the first two games of this series, winning by a combined point total of 244-225, with neither game serving as much of a test for the Raptors. Toronto was the East’s hottest team in the regular season, and Washington has consistently proven to be little more than playoff fodder the past half-decade, with few improvements to the team to get John Wall anywhere close to the help he needs to be a winner.
Despite all of that, the Wizards are 1.5-point favorites as the series shifts to Washington, and the over/under is set at 218 points despite both the first two games going over that mark. We agree with neither the spread nor the over/under, to be clear, but let us delve into why next.
Toronto is finally getting the play from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry that had inhibited the team in previous playoff disappointments. DeRozan had 37 points in Game 2, while staying aggressive for 37 minutes of play in attempting a team-high 23 field goals (making 14). Lowry was an expert distributor, racking up 12 assists with three turnovers. He struggled again with his own shot, but he did a masterful job of getting DeRozan going. Make no mistake, one of these two guards can absolutely have a bad game and the Raptors still emerge as victors. The team has plenty of depth, and the Wizards are something of a one-man team with the NBA’s poorest bench (arguably?).
While that seems to contradict the fact that Washington had somehow produced four double-figure scorers off the bench in Game 2, that almost never happens, and the Wizards still lost because they allowed Toronto to amass 130 points in the game. The Raptors shot 51.7 percent from the floor and had 24 assists, and even taking away DeRozan’s 37 points, the team still shot 31 of 64 from the field and connected on 13 of 35 from three-point range (DeRozan included in that figure, was 3 of 6).
Toronto also held a +14 advantage on the glass, which was a huge deciding factor and also a reason Toronto leaped out to a 44-27 edge after the first quarter. Even beyond all of this, there is the fact that Toronto is a superb team on the road. The Raptors went 25-16 on the road this season, while Washington is hardly an impassable team on its own court. Washington was just 23-18 at home this season, and it barely held a positive point-differential on the year at +0.6. Even if Wall has one of the best games of his life, it will hardly matter with his teammates failing to dig deep and actually play defense.
We like the Raptors to emerge with a 3-0 series lead and likely sweep this in Game 4, and at the absolute worst, Toronto can close it out in Game 5 back at home. Washington is overmatched, and until Wall is playing alongside a more consistent superstar than Bradley Beal there is no real reason to believe in the Wiz.