Off to Round 2

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Raptors Off to Round 2

Toronto Raptors Win on the Road, Eliminate the Wizards in 6 Games

A year after closing out the Milwaukee Bucks on the road in the first round of the 2017 NBA postseason, the Toronto Raptors did the same to the Washington Wizards, eliminating their rivals in six games.

With a 102-92 victory, the Raptors are through, surviving the John WallBradley Beal onslaught, as they now await the winner of the Indiana Pacers-Cleveland Cavaliers series. Led by Kyle Lowry’s 24-points and yet another strong defensive stand in the fourth quarter, the Raptors outscored a clearly overmatched and exhausted Wizards team by a score of 29-14 in the final frame of the series.

“It’s big,” said DeMar DeRozan. “Especially with the dynamic of how we can do it. (Lowry) can have a big night, I can have a big night, and the nights that we don’t we got a bench that can go out there and win the game as well. So any given night, whether it’s a closeout game or a Game 1, I think we’re just capable of showing so many elements on how to win a game that we didn’t have last year.”

DeMar DeRozan added 16-points of his own in the elimination game, while Jonas Valanciunas, who has played wonderfully all series long pitched in with a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double. Meanwhile, the Wizards were without the services of Otto Porter who was out with a leg contusion.

“After four quarters, it’s never going to be a perfect 48 minutes,” said Valanciunas following the victory. “You’re gonna have ups and downs, especially in the playoffs … and we gotta realize there’s going to be ups and downs. We’re going to have tough moments, when we’re trailing when we’re down a lot. The good teams know how to come back, and fight back. I thought we did this round, and we just gotta keep doing it. Now we have experience — last year, this year. We know how to do it. Enough talking. Let’s do it.”

Another key takeaway from the game was the return of Fred VanVleet. Seemingly rusty after missing the majority of the series with a shoulder injury, VanVleet chipped in with five-points, dropping a key three-pointer down the stretch. Heading into the conference semifinals, this game allowed VanVleet to get some good reps in to fight off the rust.

“I think it was good for us,” said Pascal Siakam who finished the night with 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. “I think we needed that. Things haven’t been going the way we wanted it to. We’ve been fighting a lot, trying to figure out our groove and just trying to get back to where we are. Today, it’s just good to see us go out there and play free and execute the game plan and play with energy like we had the whole season.” Of Fred, he said, “When Fred is out there, I feel complete, I guess.”

With one hard-fought series in the books, the Raptors are off to the conference semifinals!

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