Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors (-5, 191.5 o/u)
The visiting No. 5 Washington Wizards (46-36, 18-24 away) surprised the No. 4 Toronto Raptors (49-33, 27-15 home) by winning Game 1 93-86 in OT last weekend. The team was led by veteran Paul Pierce, who scored 20 points (five of which came in overtime).
“You’ve just got to embrace it,” said Pierce, who was booed by the Toronto fans thanks to his pregame comments. “It’s not that I’m a bad guy. That’s just the role you portray to media on the court, on the road. Everybody is booing you, no one likes you. I embrace it. It fuels me, truthfully.”
Wizards head coach Randy Wittman’s decision to play Pierce at power forward proved the difference maker. Not only did was Pierce seven of ten from the floor but he hit four of seven from beyond the arc.
“It’s a unique situation having a guy like him,” Wittman said. “If I don’t take advantage of having a guy who’s going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and pick his brain, then I’m not doing a very good job.”
He added, “Game 2 is going to be harder than Game 1. If you’re just going to be happy with [winning Game 1], then we don’t have a chance. We’re going to have to play better than we did in Game 1. No question about it.”
Wittman is likely expecting more from his two leading scorers, Bradley Beal (who had 16 points on six of 23 shooting) and John Wall (ten points on five of 18 shooting).
Raptors coach Dwane Casey, meanwhile, is hopeful his team can turn things around. Like Washington, Toronto’s main contributors during the regular season put in poor performances in Game 1. Point guard Kyle Lowry scored only seven points on two of ten shooting before fouling out in the fourth quarter, while Lou Williams, the recently named Sixth Man of the Year, scored just ten points.
“Fouling out in general, not being able to be myself and help my teammates made it more frustrating,” Lowry said. “But that’s Game 1, you learn from the mistakes and you get better.”
Look for Game 2 to be tight again. That said, the over (191.5) is the play.
(Photo credit: michalkajzerek (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)