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2018 NBA Playoffs Preview: Toronto Raptors vs Washington Wizards, SWOT Analysis & Prediction

479   //    14 Apr 2018, 15:40 IST

Will the mighty Raptors fall at the first hurdle?
Will the mighty Raptors fall at the first hurdle?

After a regular season in which they largely failed to meet expectations, the Washington Wizards limped into the playoffs, failing to win five of their last six games.

A victory against the lowly Orlando Magic would've secured the seventh seed and a match-up against the hobbled Boston Celtics, who ousted the Wizards in last year's playoffs. However, Bradley Beal and company fell short once again, condemning them to a series against the Toronto Raptors, the East's number one seed.

All hope is not lost for Washington, though, as they went 2-2 against Toronto in the regular season, despite the absence of star point guard John Wall. While they have largely flattered to deceive, Scott Brooks' men still have the playoff experience to take the Raptors to the brink.

So, without any further ado, here is Sportskeeda's preview of the first round series between the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors:


Toronto Raptors

The "Bench Mob" could be the key to the series

The Raptors were easily the best Eastern Conference team during the regular season and were the only NBA team to record a top-5 offensive and defensive rating.

While the performances of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have been crucial to the Toronto's ascent, one could argue that their depth and malleability remain their biggest assets.

The Canadian outfit boasts the deepest rotation in professional basketball with several bench players who provide starter-level production; in fact, the second unit have outscored their opponents by almost twenty-five points per hundred possessions.

The defensive ferocity of the reserve line-up, comprising of Pascal Siakam, Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, CJ Miles and Fred VanVleet, could make life miserable for the Wizards who don't have much depth beyond Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre Jr.

Since rotations tend to shorten in the playoffs, the second unit may spend less time together on the floor than expected, but the Raptors' depth will allow them to field a greater variety of line-ups and make adjustments on the fly.

Washington Wizards

When they're on form, Bradley Beal and John Wall are one of the NBA's best backcourts
When they're on form, Bradley Beal and John Wall are one of the NBA's best backcourts

When they fire on all cylinders, the Wizards are easily the best Eastern Conference team seeded between five and eight. They arguably have a more talented starting five than Toronto and are not a traditional eight seed by any stretch of the imagination.

Washington's talented backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal can torch any defence in the NBA on a given night and have performed quite consistently in the playoffs. In fact, during the 2015 postseason, the talented duo outplayed their Toronto counterparts, setting the stage for a sweep that no one saw coming.

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