Raptors at Wizards, game-day Dino-bytes
We’re back with the usual post-shootaround preview of tonight’s Raptors-Wizards game.
TORONTO (21-32) at WASHINGTON (15-36)
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
TV: Sportsnet One; RADIO: FAN590
WEB: The usual fun of the in-game blog will begin just before 7 p.m.
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas; Washington: John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor.
Key backups tonight
Toronto: John Lucas (can he keep up his torrid shooting), Andrea Bargnani (tough defensive matchups, has to make shots); Washington: Bradley Beal (rookie has some offensive capabilities), Trevor Ariza (another solid scorer off the bench)
First meeting of year
But they’ll be getting used to each other, the Raptors and Wizards will play four times between now and the first of April.
Seems to be a homecourt all-time rivalry, each team won twice at home last season, Raptors have lost four straight in Washington and have won five in a row at home.
What happened this morning?
Wondering about the new-look Wizards
Dwane Casey is worried a bit about how the Raptors handle facing a team with a worse record on the road.
But even though the Wizards started the season 4-28 and looked like the worst team in the NBA – by far – they’ve got John Wall back from injury, Nene is dominating in stretches and Washington’s won four of its last five.
No one’s ever sure how mentally sharp a team might be after having five days between games – Toronto last played Wednesday in New York – and that’s another troubling aspect of the game for both coaches this evening.
What else of the Wizards?
Michael Lee of the Washington Post offers this in the paper this morning about Randy Wittman and sticking with the program.
A first stat that may or may not mean anything
Amir Johnson has a blocked shot in 13 straight games, only seven Raptors all time have had a streak that long. The franchise record is 21 straight, set by Marcus Camby in 1998.
Back to the usual
Dwane Casey confirmed what we all suspected, Amir Johnson will be back in the starting lineup after ceding his spot to Landry Fields for one game in a matchup-driven switch last week in New York.
And with the Wizards big men Nene and Emeka Okafor working well together, if foul trouble befalls Jonas Valanciunas or Johnson, you could see some Aaron Gray tonight.
There’s not likely to be much chance for the Raptors to go small.
Who’s in charge?
Ed Malloy, Kevin Fehr and Courtney Kirkland have the ultimate authority this evening.
Yes, Malloy already caused one apology; he blew the last-second call in Charlotte back in the day.
A second stat that may or may not mean anything
Rudy Gay grew up about an hour from the Verizon Center; in five games in the building in his career, he’s averaging only 14.4 points per game, and 23 is his career high here.