The Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards had different experiences in their respective game ones in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The Raptors were outlasted by the Brooklyn Nets in Toronto while the Wizards took it to the Chicago Bulls in the Windy City. Despite the different outcomes, though, their plights moving forward are intertwined.
For both the Raptors and the Wizards, the issue that surrounds them is the inexperience in the postseason. None of the key players in Toronto have ever gained playoff experience in a big role for a team, particularly the duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. While Washington has guys like Nene, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza that have seen big postseason minutes, they’re led by a young and inexperienced backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal that have never tasted the playoff atmosphere before.
DeRozan, Lowry, Beal and Wall all struggled in their first real taste of the postseason. Some of their overall lines were decent, but none of the four vital pieces for their respective teams were playing at the level that allowed them to lead their teams to this point. Quite frankly, they’ll have to be better going forward and hopefully settle down and make sounder decisions.
While the inexperience is obvious for both Toronto and Washington, what highlights it even more is the fact that they are both up against teams loaded with veterans that have been taken a ride in this postseason rodeo more than a time or two. That came back to bite Toronto in game one and you have to imagine the same could happen if Wall and Beal don’t improve against Chicago.
The Wizards and Raptors are two of the more pleasant stories from this season, succeeding despite pasts marred by a severe lack of success. However, if either team wants to go beyond just making the postseason, guys like DeRozan and Wall are going to have to grow up quickly and adapt to the playoff environment, even if it’s something that they aren’t familiar with. We’ll see in Tuesday night’s game twos if they can make that happen and, subsequently, if the Raptors can tie the series and the Wizards can take a commanding lead.