Toronto Raptors kick off a season series in Mid-February against the Washington Wizards. It will be a 4 game season series and this is one of those cases where the Raptors face a tougher version of the Wizards based on the schedule. The Wizards started the season with John Wall and struggled as a result. Wall is back and Wizards while still not a powerhouse are at least better than they were without him. Bradley Beal the Wizards top pick in the draft is starting to develop more as well with having a talented point guard to help better use him in the Wizards offense. Proof of the Wizards improvement is the fact they are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They also have a decent home record 11-14. That said the Raptors closed out heading into the All-Star Break winners of 4 and a row. The Raptors are also 5-5 in their last 10 games. What is of concern is their road record of 7-19 on the season. That said, since Rudy Gay arrived the Raptors are a perfect 2-0 on the road and 5-2 overall. The trade deadline also looms and the odds of Raptors being able to unload Andrea Bargnani prior to Thursday seems to be growing less likely as the trade deadline approaches. Bryan Colangelo after the Gay trade promised more to come but quickly back tracked from that comment and it is becoming clear that not just for the Raptors but the league as whole seems to heading to a very dead trade deadline. Franchises seem to be very worried about the new penalties that will kick in with the new CBA that will start this off-season. The price to be a tax-team will become far greater for teams. That becomes a big question for the Raptors going forward. If Toronto truly are committed to being a tax-team and running that risk that goes with that? When you look at the many contracts they have that would be classed as over-valued it seems an almost impossible task to grow this roster without a commitment to be a tax team in at least the short term. If not the Raptors are no doubt improved with Rudy Gay but still are far from being a true contender in the East. Yes, this group could likely get to the playoffs next season if they had it from the start. Is the goal just to return to playoffs or something bigger than that? In any case the road to playoffs this season is still very long indeed. This series with the wizards are 4 games that the Raptors must have and can not afford to slip up. The Raptors need to win all of the games they have left with teams they are capable of beating. The Raptors have a weak schedule to close out the season with a winning percentage of teams below .500. That schedule is easier on the road with remaining opponents having just a .470 winning percentage. So ultimately how the Raptors play on the road should play a big factor in any playoff hopes they still cling too. Make sure to go have a listen to This Week in Raptorland where we talk about a great number of topics including the upcoming trade deadline. Raptors lead the all-time series with the Wizards/Bullets 32-31 but are just 10-21 in games in Washington D.C. The two squads have held serve so to speak for the last two seasons splitting their season series 2-2 with neither team being able to win on the other team’s home floor. The Raptors last win came in 2009 in December with a 109-107 win. They have played in 7 overtime games in the last decade including one last season with the Wizards winning 111-108 which was the last time the Raptors visiting D.C last February.
Posted by James Borbath at 1:03 PM