The Toronto Raptors' quest for the franchise's first National Basketball Association championship gets underway Saturday afternoon at Air Canada Center.
It was just two minutes and 11 seconds of game time, but it felt like the Raptors had just turned the perception of their team on its ear.
That factor is the biggest reason the Cavaliers remain the favorites to win the Eastern Conference at the Westgate Superbook Las Vegas despite their middling point differential.
Point guard Delon Wright came off the bench and scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, while All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan had 17 points of his own.
Gortat wanted to see some videotape before saying much else.
Oubre played 10 fewer minutes than his season average in Game 1.
The Raps made 16 three-pointers to Washington's eight. All the more impressive that they did this without VanVleet, who makes the bench that much more risky for Toronto, and brings another weapon that they can use in clutch minutes. "You know, we live with those". "Some guys can just flat out shoot and they don't put the ball on the floor as well". It impacts us until he gets back.
"Just coaching", Brooks would say later when asked about the exercise he shared with Oubre before the Wizards' April 3 game.
All hope is not lost for Washington, though, as they went 2-2 against Toronto in the regular season, despite the absence of star point guard John Wall. It started to spiral when Mike Scott was whistled for a flagrant one less than two minutes into the fourth quarter - Kyle Lowry made both free throws, and on the re-possession Wright rolled in a driving reverse layup to give the Raptors a lead they'd never relinquish. "It's definitely a pick your poison, but we just have to do it better", Brooks said.
Now we move into "so you're telling me there's a chance" territory.
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. "They played well, made some big shots for them and that's what they are going to do every game".
In the second half, Wall's output slowed. The Raptors had four more turnovers than the visitors, and Gortat said the Air Canada Centre - well, it's a little different now than the last time the Wizards came in here in the playoffs and swept. "They had eight more threes than us".
There were a lot of same-old-Raptors stories being considered at halftime, if we're being honest. "I don't even know how to put it into words", Miles said. Turnovers and threes. That was about it. You have to give those two guys credit: "They did a great job to find us anytime they had two guys on them". Not sure at all. If we consider only games Irving missed, their point differential drops to plus-1.3 points per game, putting the upset probability in the same territory as Blazers-Pelicans and Jazz-Thunder. Which takes away the only edge the Wizards had, and really, doesn't leave much to build on.