Thoughts from the Wizards Game 2 blowout win in Toronto.
1. Pace was great. When the Wizards play up-tempo they can be scary good. Wall dictated the pace from the start and everybody followed. Even when he was out of the game, Sessions kept pushing it. This team won Game 1 walking it up the court but tonight is the way they should play. The 2nd and 3rd quarters combined were perhaps the best stretch of basketball the Wizards have played this year. 71 pts combined in 2 qtrs courtesy of relentless defense, fast-break pressure offense, exceptional passing, and torrid shooting was fun to watch.
2. John Wall was elite. He played up-tempo from the start and put relentless pressure on the entire Toronto defense all night long. 26 pts and 17 assists is a great night statistically but it was so much more than the #s. This was Wall playing at an ELITE NBA playoff level on both ends. He put on a show in the 2nd & 3rd quarter and schooled the 6th man of the year Lou Williams. The stretch where he blocked Williams’ shot and then scored and got fouled on the other end after blowing right by Williams was electryfying. Duane Casey got teed up and it ended up being a 4-point play. Their pick & roll game works so much better when they play up-tempo and get into their sets quickly. He’s near unstoppable when he plays fast and keeps his dribble alive. Simply put, it was the best playoff night of his young career.
3. Another dominating night on the glass. They outrebounded the Raptors 45-28 with 10 more offensive rebounds. That’s 29 offensive rebounds and a +30 total rebounding advantage in two games.
4. Defense was good again. Don’t let the Raptors shooting percentage (48.8%) mask the fact that the Wizards played solid defense again. Toronto hit some contested shots tonight and got to the rim easily in the 4th when the Wizards relaxed a bit up 23. The Wizards are doing a very good job doubling most pick & rolls with the Toronto scorers (DeRozan, Lowry, Williams, Patterson) and rotating behind it beautifully. They are also continuing to trap in favorable trap areas eating up valuable shot-clock time and once again they did a great job cutting off the baseline forcing Toronto’s guards to make contested shots or contested passes. Wall’s defense was once again noticeable especially on Lou Williams in the 3rd qtr.
5. Beal’s scoring. Beal was aggressive from the start and he didn’t settle for jump shots. 20 points in the first half, 28 for the game. He got in Lowry’s head too. This was a huge bounce-back performance after a bad Game 1. Interestingly, when he misses, he misses badly. He had two air balls and a bad miss on a corner 3. He struggles as we know with his ball handling too but bottom line, he needs to be an aggressive volume shooter.
6. Never got rattled. Down 12-2 early, they cut the lead to 5 at the end of the 1st qtr. After a 10-nothing run cut the lead to 63-61, the Wizards answered with a 10-nothing run of their own. Up 23, the Raptors scored 10 straight in two minutes to cut the lead to 13 with 6:30 left….the Wizards answered that one with a 7-zip run.
7. Lowry is a mess right now. He’s not completely healthy and the Wizards are making him crazy. He fouled out of Game 1 and got in foul trouble again tonight. He let his emotions get to him and banged up his knee in the 2nd half.
8. Otto Porter’s best game. This may not have been his best game statistically but it was his best game. He looked more confident during the big run in the 3rd qtr then I’ve ever seen him. He defended, rebounded, came up with loose balls, tipped balls out for extra possessions, and made shots. He was 6 for 8 from the floor and the team was +17 with him on the floor. The only criticism tonight, he went 1-4 from the line.
9. Kevin Seraphin ready when called on. He didn’t play in the first half but came in when Gortat got in foul trouble and was ready.
10. Ramon Sessions’ quickness. Sessions gives the Wizards a chance to play the same way when Wall rests….with good up-tempo pace. He’s starting to knock down shots too.
11. Wittman had his team prepared for the start of this series. His team was prepared for these two games especially on defense. It’s tough to criticize too much when he’s 7-1 on the road in the playoffs the last two years.