Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) celebrates with teammate Serge Ibaka (9) after a basket against the Washington Wizards during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Raptors Protect Home Court, Take 2-0 Series Lead

The top seed in the East, the Toronto Raptors, took care of business in Game 2, defeating the Washington Wizards 130-119. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 37 points on 60.9% shooting. He received a lot of help from his teammates, as eight different players made three-pointers for Toronto. The Raptors scored 42 points off the bench.

Playoff Derozan

DeRozan had his way against a transparent Washington defense. His quick release and accuracy from mid-range made him a “tough cover,” Wizards point guard John Wall conceded:

Wall believes the issue was that they “let him get comfortable” too early, as the Raptors scored 44 points in the first quarter. Not many teams can generate playoff wins when they allow their opponents to score too much too early, so expect coach Scott Brooks to buckle down on his guys.

“We have to do a better job of committing to it [defense],” Brooks said. He could also use some help from his All-Star (and former Gator) shooting guard Bradley Beal, who only posted 9 points.

Playoff Lowry

As DeRozan rises to the occasion, Kyle Lowry’s production seems to diminish in the playoffs. He finished with 13 points last night, but the Raptors didn’t need his production in this game. However, he consistently puts up fewer points in the postseason. Over the past 4 years, his per game average dropped 4.6 points per game relative to that year’s regular season points per game. There is something about the intensity of playoffs that weakens Kyle Lowry. Of course, the level of competition in the playoffs is always higher than the regular season. This competition only brings out the best in truly elite players.

Lowry isn’t concerned with how he shot in this game since they got the win anyways. In fact, he was more concerned with bashing DeMar DeRozan as a friend (jokingly, of course):

The teams will head to Washington for the next two games. The Wizards were 23-18 at home this season, while the Raptors were 25-16 on the road. Toronto could shut the series down with a sweep in D.C., but the history books don’t count out the Wizards yet. In 1994, the No. 8 Denver Nuggets, anchored by Dikembe Mutombo, came back from a 2-0 hole to defeat the No. 1 Seattle SuperSonics. So yes, there’s still a chance for the Wizards.

Game 3 is Friday, April 20th. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. The winner of this series will go on to face the winner of the Cleveland-Indiana series. Expect the Wizards to put up a much better fight on their home court.

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