Playoff Preview: Toronto vs. Washington

Toronto Raptors

Record: 59-23

Offense: No. 3

Defense: No. 5

Head Coach: Dwane Casey (17-24 playoff record)

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2017-18 Leaders (SUPERGLOOO season total in parentheses): DeMar DeRozan 23.90 (1349.85); Kyle Lowry 23.13 (1209.24); Jonas Valanciunas 24.43 (878.79); Fred VanVleet 24.48 (771.88); Serge Ibaka 17.55 (765.25).

Prolific Playoff Performers (SUPERGLOOO career total in parentheses): Serge Ibaka 18.15 (1160.09); Kyle Lowry 18.88 (677.14).

The 5,000 Minute Rule: DeMar DeRozan 24,565; Kyle Lowry 16,374; Jonas Valanciunas 12,069.

STARTERS MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G DeMar DeRozan  33.9  23.0  3.9  5.2  1.1 steals per game
 G Kyle Lowry  32.2  16.2  5.6  6.9  .598 true shooting %
 F Serge Ibaka  27.5  12.6  6.3  0.8  1.3 blocks per game
 C Jonas Valanciunas  22.4  12.7  8.6  1.1  .628 true shooting %
 F O.G. Anunoby  20.0  5.9  2.5  0.7  .371 true shooting %

Key: MPG minutes per game; PPG points per game; RPG rebounds per game; APG assists per game; SUPERGLOOO metric derived from Player Efficiency Rating, along with On and On-Off plus-minus ratings; * denotes injured player may miss playoff games.

KEY RESERVES MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Delon Wright  20.8  8.0  2.9  2.9  1.0 steals per game
 G Fred VanVleet  20.0  8.6  2.4  3.2  0.9 steals per game
 F Pascal Siakam  20.7  7.3  4.5  2.0  .612 2-point %
 F C.J. Miles  19.1  10.0  2.2  0.8  .361 3-point %
 C Jakob Poeltl  18.6  6.9  4.8  0.7  .660 2-point %
 G Norman Powell  15.2  5.5  1.7  1.3  .516 2-point %
 C Lucas Nogueira  8.5  2.5  1.8  0.4  0.9 blocks per game

Washington Wizards

Record: 43-39

Offense: No. 14

Defense: No. 15

Head Coach: Scott Brooks (46-40 playoff record)

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2017-18 Leaders (SUPERGLOOO season total in parentheses): Bradley Beal 21.78 (1350.50); Otto Porter 23.78 (1204.60); Marcin Gortat 16.53 (714.36); John Wall 22.40 (659.47); Tomas Satoransky 17.28 (591.31).

Prolific Playoff Performers (SUPERGLOOO career total in parentheses): Marcin Gortat 22.00 (746.63); Bradley Beal 22.38 (643.75); John Wall 22.85 (571.25).

The 5,000 Minute Rule: John Wall 20,642; Bradley Beal 15,140; Marcin Gortat 13,092; Otto Porter 9830; Markieff Morris 5429.

STARTERS MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Bradley Beal  36.3  22.6  4.4  4.5  2.4 3-pointers per game
 G John Wall  34.4  19.4  3.7  9.6  1.1 blocks per game
 F Otto Porter  31.6  14.7  6.4  2.0  .602 true shooting %
 F Markieff Morris  27.0  11.5  5.6  1.9  .529 2-point %
 C Marcin Gortat  25.3  8.4  7.6  1.8  .518 2-point %

Key: MPG minutes per game; PPG points per game; RPG rebounds per game; APG assists per game; SUPERGLOOO metric derived from Player Efficiency Rating, along with On and On-Off plus-minus ratings; * denotes injured player may miss playoff games.

KEY RESERVES MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 F Kelly Oubre  27.5  11.8  4.5  1.2  1.0 steals per game
 F Tomas Satoransky  22.5  7.2  3.2  3.9  .615 true shooting %
 F Mike Scott  18.5  8.8  3.3  1.1  .599 true shooting %
 G Ramon Sessions  14.0  4.9  1.4  2.8  0.5 steals per game
 C Ian Mahinmi  14.9  4.8  4.1  0.7  .601 true shooting %
 G Jodie Meeks  14.5  6.3  1.6  0.9  .343 3-point %
 G Tim Frazier  14.2  3.0  1.9  3.3  0.8 steals per game
 C Jason Smith  8.6  3.4  1.6  0.4  0.4 blocks per game

 

We have a pretty competitive matchup when Toronto’s starting five matches up with Washington’s starting five, with the Raptors owning the edge. However, when The North supersubs roll in, it is advantage Toronto by a landslide. Case in point: Toronto’s starters (Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, O.G. Anunoby, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas) posted a +11.2 net rating per 100 possessions in 801 minutes together, while Washington’s starters (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat) posted a +6.0 net rating in 484 minutes. Toronto’s subs (Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl) really took advantage of teams’ weaker sub-units, posting a +17.1 net rating in 340 minutes together. No NBA team that played 300-plus minutes topped that score—and we’re talking first- or second-string units here. Conversely, Washington’s reserves struggled so much, Brooks typically had to stagger three or four starters with every combo, especially since Tomas Satoransky and Ian Mahinmi were the only Wizards who posted positive On ratings (+2.5 and 1.5, respectively).

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In the subs’ dominance, Raptors coach Dwane Casey discovered a thing and utilized his hypothesis to the team’s advantage in March and April. He started playing supersub guard VanVleet with his closer units in the first half and fourth quarter. After all, in limited time, VanVleet was every bit as good as All-Star starters Lowry and DeRozan. The result was the 2017-18 NBA version of the Death Lineup, with guard VanVleet replacing forward Anunoby in the closing quintet and Toronto running foes off the court to the tune of 128.4 points per 100 possessions in 101 minutes together (that’s 15.5 points better than the starters’ 112.9 score). The three-guard closer lineup’s net rating was +24.6. If anyone in the East is going to beat Toronto this postseason, they must figure out a way to stop Lowry, DeRozan and VanVleet at clutch time.

On the flip side, Washington has familiarity on its side, with the requisite five Wizards playing 5,000-plus minutes together on the same team. That typically bodes well for playoff squads since chemistry is such a big factor in the postseason (33 of the past 36 NBA champions met #The5000MinuteRule criteria). However, since Wall has been coming off an injury in April, things are not necessarily that way in Washington at the moment, with Wall still working off rust while his team is still trying to get in sync again. That should happen in time, but Toronto is not the team you want to work out out your kinks. The Raptors have a better offense, a better defense, a better set of reserves and a better in-game coach.

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Neither team has much playoff experience, so there really is nothing for the Wizards to hang their hat on. That is why this should be the most one-sided series in the playoffs, with Toronto the team most likely win via sweep in the first round. It is not that the Wizards are a bad team. They are quite decent and can be good when everything is in flow. But as of now, due to the Wall injury and timing of such, Washington is subpar at best and the Wizards are running into a buzzsaw that has two subs who could become future All-Stars (VanVleet and Poeltl posted 24.38 and 22.30 SUPERGLOOO scores) and four more who could start on most teams (Wright 21.48, Siakam 21.00, Miles 16.90 and Nogueira 17.30). That’s a problem.

The only chance Washington has of countering the Raptors’ supersubs is by overplaying their own rookie Satoransky, who displayed his deceptive point forward skills to great acclaim once Wall went down with injury. Not saying that is going to work, but putting in, say, Sato for power forward Markieff Morris…who knows? It is a look the rest of the League has not seen—a point forward teamed up with Wall, Beal and Porter that worked well at times during the regular season. Washington has to try something.

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