Wizards Open up 3-0 Series Lead over Toronto

by: Stephen D. Riley Special to AFRO
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The Washington Wizards came into their series against the Toronto Raptors as the underdog, but they quickly turned themselves into the favorites after two impressive road wins to open up the series. Washington kicked off the series with a 93-86 overtime win April 18 to stun the home Toronto crowd and eliminate the home court advantage. It was important that the Wizards follow up with a series of impressive games to give them an edge in the series and Washington responded. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.

 

Bradley Beal; Amir Johnson
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives the past Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) during the first half in Game 2 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

April 21: Wizards Dominate Raptors in 117-106 Win

How do you follow up a series opening overtime win? With a dominant performance in Game Two. Washington led by as many as 20 points as they coasted to a 117-106 win in Toronto on Tuesday night. The Raptors came out strong to start the second game, leading 31-26 after the opening quarter. But Washington responded quickly, outscoring Toronto over the next two quarters, 71-44. All-Star point guard John Wall sparked the attack, recording a career playoff-high 17 assists to go along with 26 points, a steal and a block while connecting on 2-of-4 from long range. It was a fine showing from Wall but an even better one collectively from the Wizards as a team, as five players scored in double figures. Sophomore forward Otto Porter perhaps played his best game of the season, adding in 15 points and nine rebounds. Porter’s energy and accurate shooting (6-of-8 from the field, 2-of-3 from long range) gave Washington a major boost from the bench in the second half. Not to be outdone, Bradley Beal poured in 28 points while shooting 40 percent from deep. Washington blasted Toronto on the glass in Game One, outrebounding the Raptors 61-48, but they followed that up in Game Two, dominating 45-28 to control the game.

 

April 24: Wizards Satisfy Home Crowd in Game Three Victory

Otto Porter Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson, DeMar DeRozan
Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) shoots as Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17), forward Patrick Patterson (54), and guard DeMar DeRozan (10) defend during the first half of Game 3 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs Friday, April 24, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 106-99. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Up 2-0 and back home at the Verizon Center, it would’ve been easy for the Wizards to let their foot off the gas considering they already swung the home court advantage in their direction. Washington had its shaky moments in Game Three but they didn’t disappoint the home crowd in a 106-99 victory on Friday night. It was a team effort from the evolving Wizards, and it was led by Wall, who scored 19 points while adding 15 assists and five rebounds. Six players scored in double figures for Washington. And, although the lead swung several times in the second half, it was hot shooting from long range that gave the Wizards the edge. Washington shot over 40 percent from long range in the game, including five three-pointers from the swing man combination of Porter and Paul Pierce that secured the win. Porter’s first long-range bomb broke an 88-88 tie with four minutes left in the game. His second three of the quarter pushed Washington up 95-90 with just over two minutes remaining. Pierce’s final three-pointer of the quarter (3-of-3 from deep in the period) settled the game as Washington nursed just a 102-99 lead with under a minute left in the game.

Next: Washington will attempt to close out the four-game series with a win in Game Four at the Verizon Center Sunday night.

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