Washington Wizards: Wizards drop Game 1 to surging Ibaka and Raptors

Raptors guard De Mar DeRozan

Winning this way is not at all unusual for the 2017-18 Toronto Raptors. This season officially started at the year-end press conference after the second-round sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Milwaukee was outscored by 0.3 points per game this season, and the last team with a negative point differential to win a playoff series was the 2014 Brooklyn Nets (over Toronto).

Will the mighty Raptors fall at the first hurdle?

Heading into Saturday's Game 1 matchup against the Washington Wizards, the Raptors were focused and delivered an impressive 114-106 victory in front of a raucous home crowd.

Yesterday's win was the Raptors' first opening playoff win in the franchise's history. "How many years ago has that been?"

But they didn't do it the way many would have guessed, with monster scoring from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. "I don't know", DeRozan said, visibly annoyed. I thought it was good.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said the humiliating sweep helped sow the seeds for Ujiri's reset.

Everything resets in the postseason, and no team knows that better than the Raptors, whose regular-season success has been wiped away with troubling performances to start the playoffs in four straight years. Guys understanding what we're trying to do, understanding that the game plan our coaches are putting in front of us is going to work. Nor even the team that lost last season's opener. The Raptors had 17 turnovers while the Wizards had 14. And yes, Lowry and DeRozan shot poorly in the first half: 1-for-3 for the four-time All-Star point guard, 1-for-5 for the four-time All-Star shooting guard, seven points between them. "Lucas is unbelievable, man", Serge Ibaka said".

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Serge Ibaka was fantastic in Game 1. Expect Toronto to play with a chip on its shoulder and make an early statement with a big win and cover in Game 1.

The total has gone under in four of Toronto's past six games.

DeRozan has made himself a much more valuable player on the floor even when he hasn't shot well. No Fred VanVleet? Wright nearly doubles his season average and hits three of four three-pointers. Toronto went on a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter with DeRozan on the bench.

The Wizards were 8-for-231 from beyond the arc; the Raptors set a playoff record with 16 three-pointers.

Bradley Beal contributed 19 points, Mike Scott had 14 off the bench and Marcin Gortat finished with 12 for Washington, which shot nearly 48-percent and had a 59-55 lead at halftime.

Said Scott: "I thought we did it to ourselves. The first step in the journey", Miles said.

There were several scenarios depending on how Game 1 turned out. It's a straightforward strategy that had created long, hard playoff series for the Raptors, even when they did eventually move on to the next round, and had allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to defeat them in each of the last two years. "The style we've been playing all year is having trust in our teammates to make the next play". Toronto has spent all season saying and acting like this season is different, and it sure seemed like that's true given how easily they won the Eastern Conference this year. "It's a journey, it's a marathon", Casey said. After all, they are the No. 1 seed in the East.

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