Game On: Defense will determine fate vs. Raptors

Game On: Defense will determine fate vs. Raptors
February 27, 2014, 11:30 am
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The Toronto Raptors are one of two teams the Wizards haven't beaten in the East. In three meetings, the Wizards have failed and lost by an average of 10 points. Their ability to breakdown the Wizards on the perimeter has wreaked havoc.

"We've got to beat them," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "We've got to come ready to go from the jump. It definitely starts with me, John (Wall) and the rest of the guards because they love to put the ball on the floor. They can shoot the ball pretty well as well. We have to have our hard hats on on the defensive end."

The Wizards, who are on a season-high four-game win streak, don't have Nene and may not have backup center Kevin Seraphin for the second game in a row. But against the Raptors, going with a smaller lineup to combat their dribble-drive activity could be the best answer. The Wizards are winless in three tries.

"It might be. It definitely may be able to help us," Beal said of coach Randy Wittman going to a small-ball lineup. "We may be able to switch some things, create some mismatches on the offensive end, too. Whatever Witt decides to do we're going to do it and we're going to execute as best we can."

[RELATED: How soon can Gooden contribute to Wizards?]

TV: There are no pregame/postgame shows because this one is on our overflow channel, CSN+ 7 p.m. ET from Air Canada Centre. Radio: 1500 AM.

Last game: Wizards (29-28) beat Orlando Magic 115-106 on Tuesday; Raptors (32-25) won at Cleveland Cavaliers 99-93 on Tuesday. 

Last meeting: The Wizards lost 103-93 at Verizon Center on Feb. 18, losing Wittman to a fourth-quarter ejection and the Raptors scoring 60 points in the paint. Season series: Toronto leads, 3-0.

Projected starting lineups: Wizards –- PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Trevor Booker, C Marcin Gortat. Raptors –- PG Kyle Lowry, SG DeMar DeRozan, SF Terrence Ross, PF Amir Johnson, C Jonas Valanciunas.

Entry passes: 1). Wizards are averaging just 11 turnovers per game in this four-game winning streak. 2). Guards must be alert and defend their man to prevent breakdowns. 3). Third-quarter lulls have doomed the Wizards in each meeting, turning close games into runaways 4). Gortat is now a primary option and must make Valanciunas work. 5). Keep the Raptors out of transition. 5). Bench scoring, particularly from Greivis Vasquez must be kept in check or matched by Washington's reserves. 

He said it: "They've got our number. It's always been the third quarter where we basically let the game get away from us." -- Wall 

X-factors: Seraphin (right knee) is day-to-day. ... Backup F/C Drew Gooden, who signed a 10-day contract Wednesday, will play but where he fits in the rotation and how effective he can be is unknown.

Around the bend: After the game the Wizards will return to D.C. and practice Friday before heading to Philadelphia to play the 76ers on Saturday (CSN, 7:30).