John Wall sat out Washington’s 107-96 victory at Toronto on November 5 with a sore shoulder and was also absent from their 100-91 setback there November 19 with a sore left knee, the same injury that has sidelined him for at least the next six weeks following surgery performed Wednesday.
Washington (28-22) have won both their games since Wall was sidelined and are coming off a 102-96 victory over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. Otto Porter Jr. scored 25 points and Bradley Beal added 21 for the Wizards, who overcame 38.2 percent shooting by forcing 20 turnovers, making 27 of 29 from the foul line and limiting the Thunder to 37.5 percent from the floor.
Porter has acclimated to shouldering more of the offensive load without Wall, making 15 of 24 shots and totaling 43 points in the last two games. He’s averaging 13.8 points overall while shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range and 48.7 percent overall.
Toronto (34-15) have also won back-to-back games as they continue to stalk Boston for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leads. They wrapped up a three-game home stand with a 109-104 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night as DeMar DeRozan had 23 points and eight assists while Kyle Lowry contributed 15 and nine.
The Raptors have won five of their last seven overall and have stepped up on the defensive end, yielding 99.1 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting in that span. Overall, Toronto have allowed 103.8 points per game while opponents have shot 44.8 percent.
Three keys to the game
The rise of Tomas Satoransky – The second-year pro saw limited minutes in the first two games between the teams this season, totaling seven points, five assists and four rebounds in 34-plus minutes. Coach Scott Brooks has turned to him over Tim Frazier, and Satoransky has provided two distinctively different positive performances as a starter.
He had 11 points and seven assists in Washington’s win over Atlanta, and the 6’ 7” guard flustered Russell Westbrook with his length Wednesday night, contributing to Westbrook’s 5-for-18 shooting night that ended with him finishing with 13 points.
Lowry slowly getting his shooting stroke back – After a 40-point effort in a loss to Minnesota on January 20, Lowry has totaled 43 points in his last four games while shooting 14 of 46. Lowry has averaged 5.8 assists in that span and had a solid all-around game in Toronto’s win over Washington in the most recent meeting with ten points, six assists and five rebounds.
Getting back on that 3-point tip – At one point Tuesday night, Washington missed 13 straight 3-pointers and finished seven of 25 from long range. The Wizards have found shooting pockets against the Raptors in their two matchups this season, hitting 22 of 42 from long range as Bradley Beal has connected on nine of 15 attempts.
Matchup to watch
SF OG Anunoby vs SF Otto Porter – While Anunoby has played only 32 minutes in the two games against the Wizards this season, he could wind up seeing extensive playing time in this contest as the primary defender on Porter. The Raptors don’t need Anunoby for offense, the rookie is averaging a modest 6.1 points, but the number that stands out is his plus-11.9 net rating as Toronto are yielding just 101.7 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court.
Porter has averaged 17.0 points in the two games versus Toronto, hitting 14 of 26 shots, but he will need to facilitate more offensively without Wall as he totaled just two assists in those contests.
Toronto Raptors projected starting lineup
PG – Kyle Lowry | SG – DeMar DeRozan | C – Jonas Valanciunas | SF – OG Anunoby | PF – Serge Ibaka
Washington Wizards projected starting lineup
PG – Tomas Satoransky | SG – Bradley Beal | C – Marcin Gortat | SF – Otto Porter Jr. | PF – Markieff Morris
Lowry has averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 assists in 27 lifetime games versus the Wizards while shooting 37.6 percent from 3-point range. He has reached double figures in his last nine games in Washington, totaling 19.3 points and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 50.0 percent from beyond the arc.
DeRozan has racked up 59 points in the first two meetings, including a game-high 33 in the November 19 victory. He has averaged 20.6 points in 31 career matchups versus Washington and has also averaged 7.3 free throw attempts. DeRozan has lit up the Wizards in his last three trips to Washington, averaging 35.7 points while shooting 54.7 percent.
Beal has given the Raptors fits in both games, totaling 65 points while shooting 27 of 49 overall. That has raised his career scoring mark to 21.0 points per game versus Toronto in 14 lifetime contests, and he’s connected on 43.5 percent of his long-range shots in those games.
The Raptors have been installed as 3.5-point favorites, but they have struggled to deliver for bettors in that role. Toronto are 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games as the favorites and also have dropped six of their last eight games against the spread overall.
Washington, meanwhile, have covered in their last four home games as underdogs and risen to the occasion against the league’s best, posting a 6-1 mark against the spread in their last seven games versus opponents with a winning percentage better than .600. The Wizards are also 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games as home underdogs between 0.5 and 4.5 points.
The over/under has climbed 1.5 points to 215 since its open, and the over could be the play here since it has hit five times in the last seven games between the teams in Washington. Additionally, the over is 7-3 in Washington’s last ten games and 7-3-1 in their last 11 at home.
The over has also hit six times in Toronto’s last seven road games.
After two games against score-first combination point guards, the Wizards are now facing a team with a structured half-court offense in Lowry and the Raptors. Brooks, though, does have the choice of putting Satoransky on DeRozan and letting Beal guard Lowry. But after the job Satoransky did on Westbrook, look for him to stay on the opposing point guard.
DeRozan and Beal almost cancel out each other offensively, though they get the job done in different methods. DeRozan has arguably the best mid-post game of any guard in the league, while Beal has deep range and can light up from 3-point range.
That makes Porter the X-factor. If he gets off to a quick start scoring, the Wizards will be able to run with the Raptorts. If Anunoby can slow him down and the Raptors get rolling offensively, it could turn into a nice road win. Look for the latter to occur here, with the Raptors getting a 114-107 victory.
The game will be televised locally on NBC Sports Washington D.C. and SportsNet One in Canada. Tip-off time is 7 pm EST.