TORONTO – The Raptors have clawed themselves quite a hole in their first-round playoff series, losing Game 2 in a lousy 117-106 loss to Washington.
Only three NBA teams have ever come back to win a playoff series after dropping the first two at home. Overall, 2-0 teams (home or away) are 55-4.
With nothing seeming to go right for the Raptors, where can they turn for some confidence to turn the series around?
“I feel for our fans,” head coach Dwane Casey told NPH and assembled media following the loss. “We have the greatest fans, passionate fans who have been with us all year and that’s where the pride factor has to come in. Guys have to go out and play with pride for themselves, for the team, and for the fans.
“It’s not like we laid down but there’s another level in playoff basketball that you have to reach.”
It remains to be seen if the Raptors can reach anything resembling playoff intensity.
John Wall finished with 26 points and 17 assists and Bradley Beal dropped a game-high 28 including 20 points in the first half which led to some confidence from the third-year swingman.
DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams each scored 20 in the loss but have not shot well this series.
Meanwhile the Raptors lone All-Star Kyle Lowry has shot just 5-20 in the playoffs and left Tuesday’s game with what is being called a left shin contusion.
“He’s trying to get back from the time he had off with his back, just trying to get back in the groove and he’s struggling,” Casey said. “You take that much time off from injury you don’t just come back against two quality guards in Wall and Beal.”
Toronto couldn’t stop any penetration while Washington racked up the points in the paint. It’s been an odd ongoing saga of Casey’s team not practicing what he preaches, which must be tough for a coach that hangs his hat on defence.
On offence, nobody is moving off the ball. Casey says the team needs to pick up the tempo in transition but that’s a philosophy that need not be exclusive to the breakout and can be applied throughout as we saw Washington run with Beal. Motion and movement get the defence on its heels and there’s no way to play a whole game of one-on-one basketball, taking contested shots and making nothing out of screens, effective.
And when the defence is bad to begin with (25th best in the league during the regular season), you’ve been outrebounded 106-76 in through two, and shots aren’t falling – there’s nothing to fall back on.