Raptors win first Game 1 in 17 years

The Raptors proved that Saturday night when they opened the post-season with a solid 114-106 victory over the Washington Wizards, ending a woeful Game 1 losing streak that had stretched back to 2001 - and one the team had grown tired of hearing about.

While the performances of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have been crucial to the Toronto's ascent, one could argue that their depth and malleability remain their biggest assets.

It was about Serge Ibaka's postgame outfit. However, they suffered 10 consecutive Game-One losses in the first round. The Washington Wizards are the worst team in the playoff field to me and aren't playing good basketball heading into the playoffs.

Lowry had 11 points and nine assists, and DeMar DeRozan finished with 17 points for Toronto. But we're not satisfied. The realization set in that a Washington Wizards team that dropped to a No. 8 seed when All-Star point guard John Wall missed 41 games wasn't really an 8 seed with Wall back. Bradley Beal scored 19 while Markieff Morris tallied 22 points and 11 rebounds.

"We're not going to look at them like they're the eighth seed because we understand what this team is capable of", DeRozan said.

Even though the Raptors are a 59-win team that some people are even picking to represent the Eastern Conference, this win felt good.

A spring storm is moving through Southern Ontario on Saturday. The Wizards blew a chance to make this series intresting, and the Raptors have the ability to take their game to another level, especially defensively.

At the same time, two of Indiana's head-to-head wins came by a combined six points (the other was a 17-point blowout), so the series was close to even.

And Anunoby, who Casey calls an "old-head rookie", showed no rookie jitters in his playoff debut, a huge plus for the rest of this playoff run.

Intent on ending the streak, Lowry had said the team's approach was: "Our Game 1 is our Game 7".

VanVleet injured his shoulder in the regular season finale Wednesday in Miami when he was targeted with a moving screen by Heat big man Bam Adebayo. To cover his minutes, the Raps inserted Norman Powell into the unit.

The Canadian outfit boasts the deepest rotation in professional basketball with several bench players who provide starter-level production; in fact, the second unit have outscored their opponents by nearly twenty-five points per hundred possessions.

Gortat, back in the game, was getting loose for a few before picking up another foul and leaving once again.

Wall, who was sidelined for two months and just came back before the start of the playoffs, had 23 points and 15 assists for Washington.

The Raptors and Wizards split the season series 2-2, typical of a season where Washington played best against quality competition. No Fred VanVleet? Wright nearly doubles his season average and hits three of four three-pointers. Beal was hot for the Wizards as well. Miles, who was brought here as a free agent nearly entirely so he could shoot three pointers in big games, shot like a guy who didn't care at all about the Raptors' 17-year, 10-game, series-opener losing streak.

Ok let's get into what happened in Game 1. "They're not a normal eight seed". IF - and yes, that is an "if" - they play well in the postseason this year, there will be a fair bit of residual value backing this squad; a team that has the potential to be a significantly undervalued commodity moving forward. The Raptors were a +8 with Nogueira on the floor. Miles finished with 12 points, and Wright added 18 points, 11 coming in the decisive fourth quarter. Miles, acquired last summer for his long-range shooting, led the way with four, while Wright and Ibaka had three. Guys understanding what we're trying to do. We've done it all year, it's nothing new. (Serge) Ibaka, he's a terrific shooter.

The Raptors host Game 2 on Tuesday.

  • Stacy Allen