Wizards rally, but fall to Raptors in OT originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 116-109 in overtime on Saturday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down…
Raptors got even
The two-game mini-series between the Wizards and Raptors this week came at an interesting time given the two team’s proximity in the postseason race this late in the year. The way the two games transpired was an indication of how closely matched they are.
After the Wizards won on Thursday night, the Raptors responded by beating them in overtime. The net result was their wins canceling each other out. That means the season series will come down to their final meeting in Toronto on March 26.
The loss spoiled what was Delon Wright’s best game as a Wizard so far. He had a season-high 18 points, tied a career-high with six steals, had seven assists, six rebounds and a block. He also forced overtime with a three with just 29 seconds to go.
With the loss, the Wizards dropped to 30-33 on the season with 19 games left. They will pick back up on Sunday night with the Milwaukee Bucks in town for the second leg of a home back-to-back. That one was moved to accommodate Tuesday’s makeup game against the Pistons in Detroit.
Turnovers an issue
The Raptors may be a middling team in the standings, but they are absolutely elite at forcing turnovers and generating points off mistakes. They are No. 1 in points off turnovers, No. 2 in turnovers forced and No. 3 in fastbreak points. Naturally, protecting the ball and getting back on defense are two major priorities for the Wizards anytime they face off against Toronto.
While they were aware of it, the Wizards fell into the Raptors’ biggest strengths in this one. They had 24 turnovers, including 13 in the first half. Toronto cashed in for 34 points off turnovers for the game and won the fastbreak battle 19-to-4. Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma led the way with five turnovers apiece.
Big shooting night
The turnovers proved prohibitive for the Wizards and enough to offset what was otherwise a great offensive night. They shot 50.7% from the field and 58.3% from three, sinking 14 triples in total. Usually when you shoot like that, you’re going to win the game. Needless to say, protecting the ball is important.
This game was a great example of why turnovers account for 25% of Dean Oliver’s ‘Four Factors.’ If you aren’t familiar, Oliver popularized the keys to basketball success which remain central to analytics in the sport. They break down as 40% shooting, 25% turnovers, 20% rebounding and 15% free throws. Those percentages correspond to importance, so you can see how much turnovers factor in. Oliver is now an assistant coach for the Wizards, so he couldn’t have been happy with the way this game played out.
Beal vs. Nurse
Beal’s turnovers were the result of swarming defense by the Raptors, who consistently threw double teams at him, usually involving much larger players he had to try to shoot or pass over. He had just 15 points on 5-for-14 shooting with four turnovers against the Raptors on Thursday, then finished with 21 points on 7-for-22 shooting, plus the turnovers. against Toronto on Saturday. It was below his standards as a scorer and shooter.
There is a long history of Raptors head coach Nick Nurse employing a strategy of basically making sure anyone but Beal beats his team. He’s always throwing something out of the ordinary at Beal and it usually involves blitzing with double teams. Though Beal had a few too many turnovers, he also had 10 assists, as he found his teammates by passing out of those double teams on several occasions.
Avdija left the game
Deni Avdija got into early foul trouble with three fouls in seven minutes, then exited for the locker room holding his stomach, Not long after, he was announced as questionable to return, not with a basketball injury, but what the team described as gastroenteritis. That would be it for Avdija, who must have not been feeling well at all given he’s generally been one of the team’s more durable players, which has often meant playing through discomfort.
With Avdija out, the Wizards turned to Anthony Gill to take his minutes. Gill ended up playing seven minutes, but all in all it was a short rotation for the Wizards with Morris also sidelined. Nunn also only played eight minutes. The Wizards basically rolled with a playoff-type rotation of seven core players with a few other guys getting minimal run. It was part a result of their injuries, but also probably a sign of the stakes of this game.