By Griffin Finch
The Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards have a rich history in recent years of having very competitive and very close series. However this year every game was decided by eight or more points. Each team won their first two games at home tying the series at 2-2 after four games. The Raptors following the pattern won game five at the Air Canada Centre and then broke the pattern concluding the series in game six on the road at the Verizon Center.
All season long we heard about chemistry issues in the Wizard’s locker room and it was quite evident throughout this series. On the court, nobody seemed to trust each other and there was no off-ball movement. Every time down the floor John Wall would run a pick and roll and if that didn’t work they would reset and run it again. This made it very easy to defend, and stagnant offense. Without anyone getting involved in the game nobody could get into a rhythm and help Wall score. It was only when John Wall went to the bench did people like Otto Porter and Markieff Morris get involved. I blame Scott Brooks for the loss in this series. He needs to find a way to get the role players involved in the game if he wants to be successful. I just do not think he is the right coach for a team trying to win now. As we saw in Oklahoma City his real talent is in developing players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. All players who after this year will likely all of won MVP trophies. His main problem coaching is that late in games as it comes down to the final possessions he likes to just give the ball to his best player and let them isolate and create for themselves. On the other hand coaches like Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics always draws up creative plays that puts his players in positions to succeed based on their individual skill sets. Brooks did the same things with KD and Westbrook when they played for him. After some time the OKC management got rid of him because of it. I expect that if he doesn’t change his ways and quickly, his time in the nation’s capital will come to an abrupt end.
The Toronto Raptors with Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have often been something less than themselves after the conclusion of the regular season. While they played well enough to win the series they were heavy favorites and were expected to win in a sweep or five games against a clearly inferior Wizards team. Instead they dropped two games to Washington and at times looked like the mentally weak team we have seen in recent years that is prone to collapses of epic proportions. Despite all the apparent problems with the Raptors they were so much more talented and had a much deeper bench than the Wizards. It was to much for Washington to overcome allowing Toronto to close it out in six games.
The Wizards need to seriously address the chemistry issues that exist in the locker room. It looks like they may need to trade John Wall or Bradley Beal to correct these issues. If they do decide to stick with the current team they should look to add another star if they want to contend for titles. The Raptors move on to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. While they are still heavy favorites in the series, you can not count out the greatest player in the world LeBron James who has shown that he psychologically owns the Raptors over the past few years. This year, Toronto will look to prove otherwise and use their superior bench and the fatigue of the Cavaliers to their advantage.