Retooled Raptors ready for playoff rematch with Wizards

Retooled Raptors ready for playoff rematch with Wizards

Top seed: The Raptors will kick off the 2017-18 postseason as the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history. Multi-season streaks in the National Basketball Association are amusing things because each team is its own organism - different players, different schemes, different vibes.

But as the eighth-seeded Wizards saw in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series on Saturday, the top-seeded Raptors have evolved since then. That question is still left unanswered but this series could shed some light onto the U.S. sportsbook situation.

Question: Who or what will be the X factor of the series?

Wall warned that the Raptors aren't the only team who knows how to trust their teammates when the all-stars are being heavily defended. On the season, Washington has defeated opponents by an average of 0.6 points.

The Washington Wizards aren't your typical 8-seed either. They did it just a year ago, when Brooks took over and the team made encouraging progress after a 2-8 start. Neither option looks great for a Raptors opponent, and that's why this Raptors team is so much more risky than the teams of years past.

Gavin Axelrod: The X Factor is this series will be Toronto's ability to overcome the past.

And while numerous faces are the same, the Raptors are a significantly different squad from three seasons ago, or even last season.

As the buzzer sounded and the victorious Raptors funneled through the home tunnel and into their locker room, their exquisitely-tailored president, Masai Ujiri, clapped his hands as his players breezed by.

Matt Stocco: It sounds weird to say, but DeRozan is the X-factor for this series. "We're trying to find the right niche or fit or whatever it is, preparation, going into Game 1". The Wizards are responsible for one of the Raptors' most humiliating post-season performances, dispatching them in four games in the first round in 2015. DeRozan and Lowry were certainly aggressive as the second half opened, but they also kept getting everyone else involved.

When they gave him room to shoot another trey, he made that, too. They're spending money, but they're not signing flawless fits for their bench such as CJ Miles. Miles has struggled from three down the stretch, converting 22 percent of his looks in the final 10 games of the season.

Anunoby scored eight points in eight minutes to lead the first-quarter charge, and his putback layup put Toronto up by 10 points just four minutes into the game.

Toronto closed out the regular season winning only seven of its last 13 games, and the Raptors covered in just three of their last 14 games. Miles is the team's most risky distance shooter.



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