Only five times in National Basketball Association history have a No. 8 seed won a first-round series, which makes it absurd the Raptors had to spend the two days leading up to Saturday answering questions about their own playoff history.
Serge Ibaka scored 23 points, and the Toronto Raptors stared down their playoff demons with a 114-106 win over the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference series at Air Canada Centre yesterday.
Both squads are highly talented, and both bring plenty of emotion to the table. The Wizards were also responsible for the lowest moment that this Raptors team has experienced - a first round sweep in 2015.
DeMar DeRozan scored 17 points, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby had 12 points each and Kyle Lowry ended with 11 points and nine assists for Toronto, which halted an NBA-worst 10-game losing streak in playoff openers.
The defensive ferocity of the reserve line-up, comprising of Pascal Siakam, Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, CJ Miles and Fred VanVleet, could make life miserable for the Wizards who don't have much depth beyond Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre Jr.
"I think 82 games is a good sample size of who we are", Casey said afterward. "If that's not the ultimate understanding of what got us here wasn't a fluke, it really worked".
Meanwhile, The 76ers surged past the Heat 130-103 in Game 1 Saturday.
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The Washington Wizards could use a win here to steal home court advantage before going home for game three.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Toronto then the series heads to Washington for Game 3. On Saturday, DeRozan finished with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting while Lowry only had 11 points while shooting 4-of-9 from the field. The Toronto Raptors have won five straight home games. When it got chippy there for a little bit, I liked it.
It wasn't the team that the Raptors might have picked to face in the first round. 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.
"It was definitely a challenge", Brooks said of the early foul trouble.
In the third quarter it was DeMar DeRozan shaking loose for twelve points as he managed to get away from the tough coverage that he saw most of the night for a stretch, but when the Raptors pulled away in the final frame it was once again Wright and Miles carrying most of the offensive load as they were afforded space by the attention drawn by the Raptors All-Stars to find opportunities. Philadelphia outscored Miami by 31 points in the second half. "They had eight more threes than us".
The Raptors and Wizards split the season series 2-2, typical of a season where Washington played best against quality competition.
Historically, postseason opponents have been able to throw the Raptors out of rhythm by sending multiple defenders at Lowry and DeRozan and daring others to beat them.