The Raptors took down the Washington Wizards, 117-113, in what was a close contest from start to finish. Here are my takeaways from the four-point victory:
1. The Raptors Can Win Without Kawhi
The big question coming in to this game was whether or not the Raptors would be able to pull off a victory without their star player, Kawhi Leonard.
The answer is clearly yes. Although some argue that it was closer than it should have been, those people forget: the Wizards are a good team. They possess one of the best backcourts in the league, two guys who can both get off on any given night.
The Raptors proved that even without Kawhi, they are still one of the deepest teams in the league, with Norman Powell and OG Anunoby effectively taking over his defensive responsibilities, and Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas taking care of business on the offensive end.
2. Kyle Lowry is the Best Point Guard in the East
Let me be clear: there are more talented point guards in the Eastern Conference than the Raptors' Kyle Lowry. Boston's Kyrie Irving, for instance; Washington's John Wall; even Charlotte's Kemba Walker.
Not one of those guys is performing anywhere near the level that Lowry is performing at right now. Over three games, he's averaging 23.3 points per game, on 61% shooting from the field, 60% from deep. Add that to his conference-high 8.7 assists per game, and you've got easily the best numbers out of any point guard in the East.
However long this play lasts, (and it may not last much longer) the fact remains: Kyle Lowry is currently the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.
3. The Wizards Are Equally as Talented as They Are Annoying
Let me preface what I'm about to say by first saying that I completely understand the hate for the Wizards. Believe me, I hate them as much as the next guy.
However, their talent can't be ignored. John Wall and Bradley Beal combine to make up what, with the DeRozan departure from Toronto, is easily the East's best backcourt. Otto Porter is a top-notch 3-and-D guy, and Dwight Howard is still good, despite being way past his prime.
So, again, while I get how annoying they are, with their whining and their Kelly Oubre, please don't doubt the talent that the Washington Wizards have on their roster; there's a lot of it.
*stats courtesy of www.basketball-reference.com