Posted on April 28, 2018, by Travis Pulver
A No. 1 seed is not supposed to have much trouble with a No. 8 seed. They are expected to roll through their opening round series without breaking a sweat. But the Washington Wizards were not the typical No. 8 team. The return of John Wall made them a much more dangerous team.
But apparently not dangerous enough. Toronto needed a massive effort in the fourth quarter to get it done—and they got it.
However, the odds were certainly not in Toronto’s favor after being down 53-50 at the half. The Raptors were 0-23 in playoff games on the road in which they trailed at the half. From how the first half looked, it as hard to say if they would be able to mount the necessary comeback in the second half.
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They were able to take the lead about midway through the third quarter. But by the time the fourth rolled around, the Wizards were on top by five, 78-73. But a quick 11-2 run to start the final quarter put an end the Wizards lead and their playoff aspirations.
The game would remain relatively close the rest of the way. But the Wizards were not able to mount a serious threat as they were outscored 29-14 in the quarter. The Raptors ended up winning by ten, 102-92.
The comeback wasn’t fueled by any of Toronto’s superstars but by the team’s bench. Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey had DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry on the bench to start the fourth quarter. With the game and potentially the season on the line, he looked to his bench to make the big play.
“I’m still looking for that manual that says you can’t play that second unit. They’re too young. [They’re] too this. They’re too that,” Casey said after the game (via ESPN). “They closed it out for us tonight.”
The Raptors bench combined to score just 34 points throughout the game. But it was their defense in the final quarter that made the difference.
“It was great to have our full bench back. Freddie [VanVleet] back out there with the guys,” DeRozan said after the game (ESPN). “Just a testament to what they did all year.”
Injury issues had kept VanVleet out of the game for all but three minutes during the series prior to Game Six. He played 19 minutes Friday night and recorded five points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists followed by DeMar DeRozan with 16. Jonas Valanciunas turned in a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Pascal Siakam led the bench with 11 points.
Bradley Beal had a solid night for the Wizards making 10 of 22 shots for 32 points followed by John Wall with 22. Markieff Morris was the only other Wizard to score in double figures.
Toronto fans will have to wait and see who wins Game Seven between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers to find out who they play next.