The Toronto Raptors hit the road to face the Washington Wizards on Friday night, and they are now facing elimination if they lose again to fall 3-0 down.
Where: Verizon Center, Washington.
When: Saturday April 25, 01:00 (UK time)
It has been a bitterly disappointing start to the playoffs for the Raptors after they dropped both of their home games to start this first-round series.
The Wizards were poor in Game 1 but managed to snatch the win before a much improved display in Game 2 ensured that they silenced the home crowd and secured a commanding lead with John Wall and Bradley Beal seemingly finding their stride.
Washington will be confident of wrapping this series up at home in order to avoid a third trip to Toronto, and veteran Paul Pierce will have had a huge role in their success.
‘The Truth’ essentially took the pressure off his teammates in Game 1 by drawing the ire of the Air Canada Centre towards him, and it worked to perfection as not only did he relish the hostile atmosphere, but it gave the younger players around him the freedom to help win the game.
In addition, it has been a poor series for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry who has struggled with foul trouble and injuries so far, while DeMar DeRozan has fared only slightly better in a disappointing opening two outings.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey knows he needs more from his first-choice back-court pair, while Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams hasn’t had the same success he had in the regular season which has hurt his team given the lack of impact from the bench.
It will take something special for the Raptors to turn this around and avoid another first-round playoff exit, but they won’t give up hope just yet as a win in Game 3 would keep their hopes alive and ensure that they will go back for at least one more home game.
However, in order to do so, Casey needs to look at his starting unit and consider making changes as the current system isn’t working.
Prediction: Raptors to win.