Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Raptors' Fred VanVleet (shoulder) ruled out for Game 1 against the Wizards

Northern Raptors' Fred VanVleet (shoulder) ruled out for Game 1 against the Wizards
Melissa Porter | 15 April, 2018, 08:13

The Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet is out for the opening playoff game against the Wizards on Saturday, the team announced.

It wasn't the team that the Raptors might have picked to face in the first round.

"Their bench was great", Wizards star guard John Wall said.

The Wizards swept Toronto in the first round in 2015 but find themselves in a quick hole this time around.

But they didn't do it the way many would have guessed, with monster scoring from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

Raptors over the Wizards, 4 games to 2.

In that sense, it felt just like previous Game 1s - the halftime deficit, the better-than-their-seeding opponent, the struggles from their stars. But even into the fourth quarter, it was hard to be sure. "It's a journey, it's a marathon", Casey said. Lowry gave Toronto 11 points but nabbed a pair of steals and dished out nine assists, while DeRozan had 17 points and six assists. That league-best bench showed up on Saturday, especially when head coach Dwane Casey went to Lucas Nogueria off the bench. He would have ranked second in the National Basketball Association in assists but was limited to 41 games because of injuries, too few to qualify.

Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3 and Gortat made a dunk to put Washington back in front, but Wright and Miles each hit 3-pointers as Toronto used an 8-0 run to take a 103-96 lead with 6:27 left, and never trailed again. Not only had they lost 10 straight, but they had an 0-7 record since 2014 with this same Lowry-DeRozan core, and were 1-12 all-time in such instances.

The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, Toronto made 16 of 30 3-point attempts, with Miles making four, and Ibaka and Wright each hitting three.

Coming into the game, it was all anyone was talking about. As much as Toronto would have liked DeRozan and Lowry to catch fire in Game 1, this kind of victory is the clearest possible representation of how the team has changed.

BC-BKN-Wizards-Raptors, 1st Ld-Writethru, 901 Ibaka scores 23, Raptors win Game 1, beat Wizards 114-106AP Photo JFJ526, NSD121, JFJ522, JFJ517, JFJ519, NSD119Eds: Raptors 114, Wizards 106. It was necessary. And it breaks an infamous streak that Toronto can't wait to put behind them.

If you paid attention to the Raptors in the regular season (or read this story), you know all about their "culture reset" and offensive transformation: Despite finishing sixth in offensive rating last season, they installed a completely new system in training camp, one which required their primary scorers to sacrifice touches, empower their teammates and move without the ball.