- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Wizards left the booming city of Toronto with an ideal start to their best-of-seven series with the Raptors. When a visiting team goes up 2-0, it wins a best-of-seven series 89.7 percent of the time, which leaves the Wizards with a kung-fu grip on the series, if not an outright death lock. Three things from Game 2:

1. Beal in attack mode. The Wizards’ scored 30-plus points in consecutive quarters for the first time since obliterating the hapless Philadelphia 76ers on April 8. That day, the Wizards set a franchise record for shooting percentage. In Toronto, Bradley Beal’s decision to get to the rim had a lot to do with that success and his game-high 28 points. His shot chart was populated with Os and Xs in the lane since nine of his 21 shots were in the paint. He started the game 2-for-5 from the field, continuing the cold shooting he dealt with in Game 1. Then, a change.

“I think the first game, I was taking shots they wanted me to take rather than getting shots that I wanted to take,” Beal said. “I didn’t make my first couple jumpers [in Game 2], so one of my teammates pulled me to the side and said we were taking way too many jumpers, let’s get to the basket. I started attacking the basket and getting easy ones, and then everything else just opened up.”

2. No mercy on the boards continued. The Raptors have a key issue: They want to run, but can’t rebound. The Wizards are constantly sending two players to the rim to offensive rebound and are pulverizing Toronto accordingly. Washington has 29 offensive rebounds in two games. The Wizards have a 30-rebound advantage through two games. The Raptors had just 10 fastbreak points in Game 2. They had only six in Game 1. They are stuck playing one-on-one in the halfcourt.

3. Feisty Otto. Maybe it was the removal of the goggles — as his teammates have been telling him to do — that has flipped Otto Porter in this model of player. Game 1 was noted, but could have been a one-off instance of Porter’s success followed by a quiet night, which was so often the case this season. Instead, he was better in Game 2. Before the season began, Paul Piece talked about multiple attributes in Porter he liked. Before it closed, he wondered about Porter’s fighting spirit. Now, this: “He’s getting confident, man,” Pierce said after Game 2. “He’s growing. I think at the end of the year he finally got the opportunity to play more minutes and his confidence has been growing going into the playoffs. I’m just steadily trying to feed it. I’m just trying to feed it every day in the game or practice. He has a lot of potential man, he could be an X-factor for us and he’s proving that right now in this series.”

Also interesting was what John Wall said of Porter, which is reflected in his numbers as a starter versus coming off the bench. It seems Porter realized his play needs to be the same no matter when his name is called, and that will lead to more minutes — including with the starters.

“I think sometimes when he was in the starting lineup, he was very aggressive,” Wall said. “And then, he’d get to the bench, he wouldn’t be aggressive. I think he understands his role more now and understands if he’s playing well, we’re going to play him a lot in the fourth quarter. We need him big in these games.”

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