By: Josh Weinstein
The Toronto Raptors (10-5) have been rolling, winning three consecutive games and five of their last six. During their brief winning streak, the Raps have - for the most part - dominated, outscoring the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, and New York Knicks by a combined 48 points.
Kyle Lowry finally hitting his stride and DeMar DeRozan's scoring efficiency – he’s hit 56 percent of his field goals in the past three games – are just two of the many factors driving Toronto's success of late. Whether it's the human energizer bunny Pascal Siakam sprinting up the floor with reckless abandonment and filling in admirably for Serge Ibaka in the starting five, or OG Anunoby providing much-needed defensive intensity to the team's starting unit, almost everyone on the Raptors roster is contributing in meaningful ways.
This streaking Raptors team should put forth a much stronger effort against the Washington Wizards (9-6) this afternoon (3:30 PM ET), considering the circumstances last time these squads met. Toronto was coming off a brutal six-game road trip and seemed exhausted from the opening tip when Washington was in town on November 5. Aside from the exhaustion, Lowry still hadn't returned to his all-star form which made generating offence that much more challenging from the get-go.
Also, the Raps weren’t knocking anything down from distance two weeks ago. That facet of the team’s game has certainly changed, as Toronto now ranks 19th league-wide with a 35.4 three-point percentage. The past six games are the main reason for the vast improvement. Toronto has knocked down 43.1 percent of its threes (third-best in the NBA) during that span.
John Wall didn’t play last time the Wizards and Raptors met at Air Canada. He may not dress once again due to swelling in his left knee that’s causing him discomfort. Wall is officially listed as questionable. Once again, expect the Wiz to err on the side of caution with their star point guard.
OG Anunoby remains in the starting lineup, with Norman Powell still recovering from injuries. Serge Ibaka is expected to return after dealing with soreness in his knee.
Projected starting lineups:
- PG Kyle Lowry
- SG DeMar DeRozan
- SF OG Anunoby
- PF Serge Ibaka
- C Jonas Valanciunas
- PG John Wall – Tim Frazier will likely start if Wall can’t go
- SG Bradley Beal
- SF Otto Porter
- PF Markieff Morris
- C Marcin Gortat