Wizards drop Game 1 to surging Ibaka and Raptors — Washington Wizards

Making shots will be key in Game 1 for Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors.
Winslow Townson  

Making shots will be key in Game 1 for Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors. Winslow Townson AP

But it was non-existent against the Raptors during his first appearance of the 2018 National Basketball Association playoffs.

Heading into Saturday's Game 1 matchup against the Washington Wizards, the Raptors were focused and delivered an impressive 114-106 victory in front of a raucous home crowd.

But the season series unfolded without Wizards star John Wall, who missed all four Raptors matchups with left knee injuries.

Both squads are highly talented, and both bring plenty of emotion to the table.

The Wizards swept Toronto in the first round in 2015 but find themselves in a quick hole this time around. However, Bradley Beal and company fell short once again, condemning them to a series against the Toronto Raptors, the East's number one seed.

DeMar DeRozan scored 17 points, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby had 12 points each and Kyle Lowry ended with 11 points and nine assists for Toronto, which halted an NBA-worst 10-game losing streak in playoff openers. Miles finished with 12 points, and Wright added 18 points, 11 coming in the decisive fourth quarter.

But then. things changed. "We got to make adjustments". For a team that had chose to revel in the doubts of their detractors, that showed clips of various USA analysts criticizing them on the scoreboard before the game began, that said over and over that they were confident this new-look group wouldn't fall into familiar Game 1 traps, there were the Toronto Raptors after two quarters staring at a four-point hole.

While the Raptors had exhausted of the Game 1 curse talk, Miles said opening a series with a win in general means plenty. We had opportunities, several opportunities, to win tonight and close it out but we didn't.

Toronto spent 82 games getting comfortable with a style that counteracts that - rather than shouldering a huge scoring burden, they have been asked to leverage their scoring abilities to put the defense in uncomfortable positions. He finished with 23 points. "When he made his first 3, I thought that relaxed him a little bit". Lowry and DeRozan told reporters they would approach Saturday's game one as though it were a must-win game seven.

Wall scored nine points in the first, but Gortat and replacement Ian Mahinmi each had two fouls before the first quarter was half over.

It was just two minutes and 11 seconds of game time, but it felt like the Raptors had just turned the perception of their team on its ear. The team that put an emphasis on three-pointers made 16 of them and outscored the Wizards by 24 points from beyond the arc. We love it and we try to give them plays and allow them to be a factor, too. Washington led 59-55 at halftime.

Historically, postseason opponents have been able to throw the Raptors out of rhythm by sending multiple defenders at Lowry and DeRozan and daring others to beat them.

DeRozan had 12 points in a third quarter that saw neither team lead by more than five points.

VanVleet injured his shoulder in the regular season finale Wednesday in Miami when he was targeted with a moving screen by Heat big man Bam Adebayo.

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