From Raptors to Wizards: How to build a team that can beat Toronto

How does Washington end its string of second-round series against Toronto? I always thought Toronto is good with the second seed, but I am sensing something is shifting. Maybe this current team isn’t as…

From Raptors to Wizards: How to build a team that can beat Toronto

How does Washington end its string of second-round series against Toronto?

I always thought Toronto is good with the second seed, but I am sensing something is shifting. Maybe this current team isn’t as good as the previous version. Maybe it is better without Jonas Valanciunas. Perhaps this group is better when given the benefit of a homecourt advantage, regardless of the league’s (and the league’s) poor attendance figures. When a team gives you homecourt advantage, it has the opportunity to win Game 7 on the road. Can the Wizards find a way to squeeze a Game 7 out of a series that likely is at least one and a half rounds away from even being close? I’m not sure. But if the Wizards go down in five games, they can take something to the summer, reworking their lineups in terms of both depth and matchups. For one thing, Markelle Fultz and Bradley Beal have missed several key moments together, and the Raptors have beaten them in six of eight games this season.

Lets address the big difference we might see at point guard vs Raptors in this series. Neither John Wall or Garrett Temple look for the shot in motion. Earl Watson is most effective when working from the ball. Boston wanted Kyrie Irving to stay on the weak side when Isaiah Thomas made his comeback. I think Toronto needs to move DeMar DeRozan more to the NBA. I mean, look at the Raptors record with him near the basket. And with Kyle Lowry (their best passer) healthy, what else is he going to do. I love DeRozan’s play and I think he is both a scorer and a good passer, but he can’t fit in like he did in Cleveland and the team is much stronger with him out in the open court or at the top of the key working for his opportunities. I see DeRozan as a sixth man who is a nightmare for the Raptors defense. And I like Watson at point. He gave Patrick Ewing fits in Georgetown games and he can play with the quickest players. Will he be good enough to work with Bradley Beal? That’s up in the air. Will he be good enough to play with John Wall? That’s also up in the air. I don’t know enough about Watson right now, but he does remind me of Avery Johnson, a point guard.

– Do you think there’s a chance Jodie Meeks could still be useful in his four-year, $33 million contract in the second round? I don’t know his value/position.

I had a conversation with Meeks before the trade deadline, and his response was “Absolutely.” It seems that no matter how old he gets, Meeks remains deadly from three-point range, and his presence on the bench will give a lot of confidence to Marcin Gortat when he has to get a quick steal. But I didn’t get a clear sense of if the Raptors were willing to go over Meeks’ salary. They already had a healthy Terrence Ross playing shooting guard. Would they look to get healthy Meeks to push Gortat off the ball and play the position in the post? It would be interesting to see if the Wizards could play a line of Austin Rivers and Vince Carter for a while. It’s not something I think I’m privy to, but I’m sure it’s being discussed.

The Wizards have dropped five in a row at the Verizon Center. How big of a reason are things being negative in their favor when watching the games?

Since President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld came to the Wizards in 2011, they’ve lost five of six at home against playoff teams. The Wizards had the same edge for three seasons starting in 2013, when they won 35 of 60 at home (including 16 straight wins). They should have been better at home, but I just don’t know if Grunfeld made the right decision in starting two centers instead of one.

Could the Washington Wizards really make a legitimate run in the Eastern Conference Finals this season?

I’ve been amazed at the move of Wall, especially because he is a free agent at the end of this season and I have no idea if he will be here, and how new coach Scott Brooks hasn’t shown his hand yet. Is Wall going to be motivated enough to win a title? I think he has some less than stellar teammates around him. But does it matter? If not, are there other teams in the East that can be toppled?

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