The Wizards entered the rowdy and loud Air Canada Centre that was extra amped for the series after Paul Pierce claimed the Raptors do not have an “it” player that can win a game. The Wizards finally took a lead midway through the second quarter once Paul Pierce caught on fire and were able to eventually hold a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter. Although the Raptors came back to force overtime behind hot three point shooting, the Wizards were victorious 93-86.
Both teams started the game cold offensively as at the midway point in the first quarter the Wizards were shooting 2-12 and the Raptors 2-9. While missing open jump shots, the Wizards only found themselves down 7-5 With Marcin Gortat on the bench after picking up two early fouls, Nene began to exert himself after taking passive jump shots to start the game. Late in the quarter he had already tallied 6 points and 7 rebounds. With the Raptors starting to make their jump shots the Wizards trailed 23-19 at the end of one.
The Wizards struggle offensively on jump shots carried over to the second unit. The struggle was epitomized when the Wizards had four opportunities to score on a single possession and ended up giving away a breakaway dunk because they could not hit a shot. Luckily for the Wizards, the Raptors could not stretch out their consistent lead to double digits leaving the door open for a comeback. As Wittman had advised Pierce earlier in the week about playing in the power forward position, The Truth rotated over with Nene on the bench. Offensively he caught on fire as the big men of the Raptors such as Hansbrough and Amir Johnson could not get out on him fast enough. Pierce hit four straight field goals to fuel a 9-0 Wizards run to secure Washington’s first lead of the game and starting the second half up 46-42.
Coming out of the half, the Wizards had a scare as Paul Pierce was on the floor in pain after being blindsided by a Valanciunas screen that Nene did not call out. Luckily for Washington, he was able to stay in the game and picked up where he left off by hitting two more jumpers. The Raptors kept things close as Valanciunas was able to secure two put back buckets. With Beal and Wall gaining confidence by being aggressive offensively, Washington has an 11 point lead, but Amir Johnson was unstoppable down low. After a chaotic, fast paced finish to the quarter, the Wizards took a 65-56 lead into the final quarter.
The Wizards put their foot on the gas to start the final quarter as they were attacking the basket and making more effort plays than the Raptors allowing them to stretch the lead to 15. Toronto would not go away though as they went on an 8-0 run as they began to be aggressive in the paint. The Raptors followed that run up with another 9-1 stretch featuring their newly found three point stroke from Lou Williams and cutting the Wizards lead to 2. Beal and Wall hit key shots to keep the Wizards offense afloat, but Grevis Vasquez hit a clutch three pointer late in the game to force overtime with the game tied at 82.
The overtime period started with the Wizards exerting their offensive rebounding dominance again as they got five second chance points from a Pierce three and Nene slam. With the Wizards doubling DeRozan late in the game, the Raptors were unable to make Washington pay for their aggressiveness. The stringent Washington defense held the Raptors to a cold 1-8 shooting in the OT period as they secured their Game 1 win by a 93-86 count.
Why the Wizards Won:
- Defense. The Wizards held the Raptors to 19 and 14 points in the second and third quarter respectively. Then after a meltdown in the 4th, they did not allow the Raptors to score in overtime until there was only 30 seconds left in the game.
- Dominance in the paint on the offensive side of the ball when both teams were shooting cold played a key role. The Wizards had 19 offensive rebounds to go along with 52 points in the paint.
- The Raptors had six players make more than a 100 three pointers for them in the regular season but only had two made three point field goals before the fourth quarter started. The Raptors cold shooting is what allowed the Wizards to get out to such a big lead in the second half.
With another game in Toronto before returning home, the Wizards have many things they can adjust going forward. They should now be better adjusted to deal with the crowd noise, which could be correlated to their slow start. As we have been accustomed to seeing in the regular season a catastrophic collapse nearly occurred. If the Wizards are going to try and win this series they will need to find the “it” that will protect their late game leads. However, at the end of the day the Wizards won and have put a lot of pressure on the Raptors for Game 2.