Washington Wizards vs Toronto Raptors: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/14/18

The Toronto Raptors look to shed the label of playoff underachievers as they open their postseason Saturday at home against the Washington Wizards.

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Toronto (59-23) have set single-season club records for wins in four of their last five seasons, starting with 48 in 2013/14 to the 59 accumulated this season that earned them the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Yet the Raptors have failed to carry that success into the postseason, making two first-round exits before being eliminated by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers the last two years.

A matchup with James potentially awaits in the second round, but the Raptors must first contend with the Wizards (43-39), who swept them in the first round in 2014/15 in the 4 vs 5 matchup. Toronto revamped their offense this season, better using the talents of All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and averaged 111.7 points, nearly five points better than their 2016/17 mark of 106.9 per game.

Coach Dwane Casey also developed a second unit who are among the best in the NBA, and Toronto’s 41.8 points per game from their reserves are the highest of any Eastern Conference playoff team. 

Washington are in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, but inconsistency throughout the season and an injury that sidelined star guard John Wall for two months and until the final two weeks of the season did not help matters. 

The Wizards lost 14 of their final 21 games but still have enough backcourt firepower in Wall and leading scorer Bradley Beal to be one of the most dangerous No. 8 seeds in recent memory.

The Wizards also start this series having lost their final six regular-season road games, with three against non-playoff teams. Washington, though, split their two trips to Toronto in 2017/18 and the four games this season, all without the injured Wall.