10 Observations from Raptors vs. Wizards, Game 3
1.) John Wall puts the Wizards on his back
The former Kentucky Wildcat dominated this game. He exploited Jonas Valanciunas in the pick and roll time and time again. The Raptors defenders went under screens, and Wall burned them by knocking down jumpers. You have to pick your poison with Wall and forcing him to knock down jump shots is usually a better option than giving him a driving lane. But when Wall’s got his jimmy going, he’s almost impossible to stop.
The Wizards scored 28 points off of 19 Raptors turnovers. When Wall or Bradley Beal get the ball in transition with a head of steam, you’re not going to stop them too often.
The Raptors need to be more careful with the ball in game 4.
3.) Bradley Beal redeems himself
You have to give the Missouri native some credit. Beal was ripped apart by the media after scoring just nine points on 3 of 11 shooting in Game 2.
He answered the bell in game 3, going 10 for 19 with 28 points. Wall and Beal combined for 56 points while shooting over 50%. It won’t be easy to beat the Wizards on the road when their backcourt is putting up numbers like that.
4.) Morris rallies his team
Markieff Morris got his team pumped up by getting into an early shoving match with OG Anunoby.
Morris knew exactly what he was doing, as the scuffle seemed to fire up his Wizards teammates.
“We needed some physicality,” said Morris. “This is me trying to set the tone for how we need to play the whole series.”
5.) The Polish Hammer gets a haircut
Before game 3, Morris brought clippers to practice, trying to convince Marcin Gortat to cut off his Mohawk, saying they needed “the Hammer” back. The 34-year-old Pole acquiesced to Morris’s peer pressure.
Gortat’s new look seemed to work.
After getting dominated by Jonas Valanciunas in game 2, Gortat redeemed himself with an excellent game 3. He ran the pick and roll effectively with Wall (we’ll ignore the illegal screens he set), and scored 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting.
Along with Wall and Beal’s stellar nights, the return of the Polish Hammer was just too much for the Raptors to take.
6.) Come back soon Freddy!
The Raptors desperately miss Fred VanVleet. Without Freddy, the self-proclaimed ‘Bench Mob’ just hasn’t been the same. The ball doesn’t hum as well on offence, which is fatal to a unit full of players who rely on ball movement to score. Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl have been hurt the most by VanVleet’s absence, and would benefit by playing more minutes with one particular player...
7.) Kyle + bench
Kyle Lowry is the perfect temporary replacement for Fred VanVleet. Lowry is an excellent floor general, and is perfectly capable of pushing the pace and getting the ball to guys like Siakam and Poeltl in spots where they are comfortable.
Unfortunately, in game 3, Norman Powell started the second quarter with the ‘Bench Mob’, while Lorenzo Brown started the 4th quarter in Poeltl’s place.
If VanVleet can’t play in game 4, a ‘Kyle + bench’ unit of Lowry, Miles, Wright, Siakam and Poeltl has to be given minutes. It’s a lineup that will excel if given the opportunity to play together.
8.) Inconsistent officiating
Let me be clear. The referees were NOT the reason the Raptors lost game 3. But there were definitely some frustrating moments.
DeMar DeRozan attacked aggressively enough to warrant more than two free throws in the game.
9.) Identical plays called differently
In the 2nd quarter, John Wall inadvertently slapped OG Anunoby’s head to prevent an easy dunk. Common foul. In the 3rd quarter, Kyle Lowry got a piece of Bradley Beal’s head to prevent an easy two. Flagrant foul.
Those two plays have to be called the same way.
The Raptors started the game well, taking a 27-18 lead in the first quarter. They had far too many lulls the rest of the way. If Toronto’s going to take a 3-1 series lead on Sunday night, they need to play with a high level of intensity for a full 48 minutes against a very good Wizards team.