And…there go the Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were swept in the first round of the NBA eastern conference playoffs by a Washington Wizards team that thoroughly overmatched them in every way possible. Led by the dynamic young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, as well as by the veteran presence of Raptor-killer Paul Pierce, the Wizards dominated the Raptors in all four playoff contests. Excluding a late comeback in game one of the series by the Raptors that forced overtime, the team really showed no fight throughout the series. Additionally, Washington’s small-ball lineups proved too much for Dwane Casey’s poor defensive schemes, and his job status will surely be on the line this coming offseason as a result.

Aside from being dominated by small-ball lineups and a younger, more potent backcourt (as evident by the result of this series), the Raptors stars failed to show up. Kyle Lowry continued his decline since the all-star break, averaging a pedestrian 12 points and 5 rebounds in the series, while DeMar DeRozan continued to take low-efficiency shots when his team needed a bucket most. While Lowry’s play can partially be blamed on how he’s had to battle injuries of late, DeRozan’s performance in this series is unjustifiable. DeRozan will have to evolve his game and become more efficient in the future if he ever hopes to lead the Raps out of the first round.

The need for an increased amount of veteran presence on this Raptors team could not be anymore apparent than it is right now, especially when you consider how great an impact Paul Pierce has has on this Wizards team. Pierce was brought to Washington to provide leadership in playoff games, and he did just that. Hopefully the Raptors can learn from their previous two playoff series defeats by bringing on an experienced veteran with championship experience. Surely young Raps like Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross would appreciate it.

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