A pair of Eastern Conference teams in different situations in regards to the playoff picture meet north of the border. The Washington Wizards are on the road as they travel to face the Toronto Raptors Friday night. Washington was defeated 115-106 on the road by Chicago in their last game Wednesday night. Toronto clipped Oklahoma City 130-121 on the road Wednesday night in their previous contest. The Raptors lead the all-time regular season series 53-37 and have won the last six meetings, including a 122-118 home win in the first meeting this season on December 20, 2019.
Washington Wizards Hoping to Gain Ground on Playoff SpotWashington suffered their second straight loss as they were knocked off in the Windy City by the Bulls Wednesday night. The Wizards entered Thursday tied for third in the Southeast Division, 15 games behind the Heat. Washington stood tied for 11th in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, five games behind the Nets for the final playoff spot. The Wizards led by two after one quarter and by five at the half before getting outscored 30-20 in the third quarter to trail by five. Washington was down one with 8:23 to play before giving up a 10-0 run that decided the game. The Wizards shot 46.8 percent from the floor, including 11 of 26 from three-point range, but allowed Chicago to shoot 50.6 percent in the game. Bradley Beal led Washington with 23 points in the loss.
The Wizards enter this contest fifth in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 114.6 points per game on the year. Washington is 29th in rebounding as they collect 42.4 boards per contest and are eighth by dishing out 25.8 assists per contest. The Wizards have been a sieve defensively, ranking 30th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 119.8 points per game. Bradley Beal leads the team with 27.6 points and 6.5 assists per game on the season. Isaiah Thomas puts up 12.4 points plus four assists a night while rookie Rui Hachimura adds 13.9 points and 5.8 boards a night. Davis Bertans (15.3 points), Thomas Bryant (13.2 points, eight rebounds) and Moritz Wagner (11.6 points) are all averaging in double figures. Ish Smith (11.1 points, 4.5 assists), Jordan McRae (13.8 points), Troy Brown Jr. (10.2 points, six rebounds) and Anzejs Pasecniks have had to step up with a slew of injuries impacting the rotation. The Wizards are banged up at the moment as Hachimura strained his groin and potentially could miss several more weeks. Wagner could miss another three weeks with an ankle injury. Washington is 15th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 45.9 percent from the floor as a team on the year. The Wizards are tied for 15th in the league in threes per game as they drain 11.8 triples a night while the team stands tied for 8th in three-point shooting by hitting 36.3 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Toronto Raptors Trying to Slice Into Atlantic Division DeficitToronto has alternated wins and losses in their last 10 games as they took down Oklahoma City on the road Wednesday night. The Raptors entered Thursday second in the Atlantic Division, 1.5 games behind Boston for the division lead. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, Toronto was fourth, nine games behind the Bucks for the top spot. The Raptors led by 13 after the opening quarter and by 18 at the half only because they gave up a 12-0 run over the final 1:33 to slice into a 30-point lead. Toronto didn’t trail in the second half but had to withstand an Oklahoma City charge that got them within three late. The Raptors shot a blistering 61.2 percent from the field, including 15 of 27 from three-point range, to help offset 19 turnovers in the game. Norman Powell led Toronto with 23 points off the bench.
The Raptors are 15th in the league in scoring offense with 110.8 points per game this season. Toronto is 11th in the league with 46.1 rebounds per contest and stands 10th in assists with 25.3 per game. The Raptors are 5th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 105.6 points per game. Pascal Siakam leads the team with 24.6 points plus 7.8 rebounds per contest. Kyle Lowry contributes 20.5 points plus 7.8 assists a game while Fred VanVleet puts up 18 points and seven assists per contest. Serge Ibaka (15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds), Norman Powell (14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds) and OG Anunoby (11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds) are guys that Nick Nurse is relying on in the Raptors’ rotation. Toronto is tied for 20th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 44.9 percent from the floor as a team. The Raptors are fifth in threes per game this season as they have knocked down 13.4 triples per contest while the team is tied for third in the league in three-point shooting by hitting 37.1 percent of their chances from long range. VanVleet has been out since January 4 with a hamstring injury but is expected to return over the weekend.
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