Playing both the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors and current Eastern Conference-leading Raptors (43-17) even at full strength is a daunting challenge, but with the Wizards (36-26) without injured point guard John Wall for both contests, it is almost unfair to the Southeast Division leaders.
Washington acquitted themselves well for the first half of their 109-101 loss to Golden State on Wednesday night, but the champs had another gear in the third quarter that Scott Brooks' team could not find. The Wizards were held to 14 points and outscored personally by Kevin Durant as a two-point deficit expanded into an insurmountable 15-point hole.
It was just the fourth loss in 14 games since Wall underwent knee surgery in late January, and he is expected to miss at least another month. The loss was a rare off game for Bradley Beal, who was held to eight points on three-of-15 shooting as Klay Thompson sacrificed some of his offensive game in a clash of All-Star shooting guards.
Toronto are trying to sweep a two-game road swing of Southeast opponents after knocking off Orlando 117-104 on Wednesday night. DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points and Kyle Lowry added 17 and 11 assists for the Raptors, whose bench racked up 53 points to help them outscore the Magic 58-38 in the paint.
The Raptors have won three straight on the road since a 122-119 loss at Washington on February 1 that snapped a seven-game winning streak at the Verizon Center dating back to the 2012/13 season.