The Washington Wizards struck the first blow in the battle for third place in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday and will try to gain another game over Toronto in the standings when they host the Raptors for the second leg of the home-and-home set on Friday. The Wizards snapped an eight-game regular-season skid in the series and pulled one game ahead of the Raptors with a 105-96 triumph at Toronto on Wednesday.
“I thought the guys did a good job of just taking care of business,” Washington coach Scott Brooks told reporters after watching his team hold the Raptors to 36.7 percent from the floor in the win, which came one day after the Wizards knocked off the NBA-best Golden State Warriors. After coming out of the All-Star break sluggish with back-to-back losses, Washington bounced back to improve to 20-5 over the last 25 games and stay within two games of the second-place Boston Celtics in the East. The Raptors won four in a row before Wednesday’s loss and are still trying to figure out the path forward without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who underwent wrist surgery on Tuesday. “Our staff, we’re going to have to come up with something to give us a rhythm offensively without Kyle in there, how we want to play,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “We had three assists in the first half, that can’t happen. And 11 for the whole game. The ball’s got to move and get in a rhythm and we were a little out of sync, and I felt that carried over to the defensive end.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington)
LINE HISTORY: The Southeast leading Wizards opened as 4.5-point home favorites and that line was bet up to an even 5 early Friday morning. The total hit the board at 208.5 and was quickly bet up a full point to 209.5 before fading down to 208. Check out the complete line history here.
Raptors – PG Kyle Lowry (Early April, wrist)
Wizards – PG Trey Burke (Questionable, personal)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Raptors (-8) – Wizards (-5.7) + home court (-3) = Wizards -0.7
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (36-25 SU, 33-27-1 ATS, 33-28 O/U): Toronto is trying to figure out the flow amongst the starters with Lowry out but is also struggling on the bench, where the team added veteran forward P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline and saw point guard Delon Wright (shoulder) make his season debut just before the All-Star break. “We just have to figure out how to play together,” reserve shooting guard Norman Powell told reporters, according to the Toronto Star. “It’s what, Delon’s (sixth) game back? He’s getting into the flow or the rotation. We got P.J. on the team too, so everyone is still trying to figure everybody out on that second unit. But that’s going to come just with playing defense.” Veteran Cory Joseph moved into Lowry’s starting point guard slot and managed 11 points and one assist on Wednesday.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (36-23 SU, 34-25 ATS, 35-24 O/U): Washington’s bench seems to be thriving with the addition of shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic, who came over from the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline and scored at least 15 points in each of the last three games. The 27-year-old’s best game came on Wednesday, when he scored 27 points and went 6-of-7 from 3-point range while helping to spark a 26-1 run early in the second quarter. All-Star John Wall handed out 13 assists in Wednesday’s triumph and is averaging 14.3 in four games since the break.
* Raptors are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up loss.
* Wizards are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Under is 7-0 in Raptors last 7 games following a ATS loss.
* Under is 5-1 in Wizards last 6 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 61 percent of Covers users are taking chalk with the hometown Wizards and Over is picking up 70 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.