The Wizards completed a 4-0 sweep of the Toronto Raptors last night in their opening playoff series. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Wizards have swept an opponent in the playoffs. During much of this series, the Wizards dominated the Raptors, except for Game 1, as that game went to overtime before the Wizards won by seven. In the three remaining games, the Wizards won by an average of 16.3 points per game.
All-Star point guard John Wall had an oustanding series, as he averaged 17.3 points, 12.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds. Wall gave Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry fits every game; Lowry spent much time on the bench due to foul trouble. In Games 3 and 4, Wall held Lowry to 13 combined points and made him struggle shooting, as he shot an average of 25 percent from the field.
Bradley Beal exploded in the first round series, averaging 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists. In numerous occasions during the series when the Wizards would go through a shooting slump, it was Beal to get them out of it by making a tough mid-range or three-point shot. Beal is known for his long-range shooting, but in this series, he displayed his ability to drive to the basket and finish with contact. In order for the Wizards to continue being successful in the playoffs, they will need scoring from Beal similar to what he did in this series.
Paul Pierce showed why the Wizards brought him to the organization, as he did last year when he played for the Brooklyn Nets. Pierce's veteran playoff experience is something the Wizards dearly missed last season. He let his presence be known before the playoffs even started by stating that Toronto lacked the "It" factor. After coach Randy Wittman moved Pierce to the power forward position, he caused headaches for Toronto by forcing their big men to defend his three-point shot. Pierce averaged 15.5 points and 3.3 rebounds for the series, which aren't incredible numbers, but his leadership was the reason this young Wizards team was able to overcome adversity and advance past Toronto.
Nene was a beast in the paint for Washington as he always is. Similar to Pierce, Nene didn't average a crooked number statistically, but his toughness brought unlimited confidence to the Wizards. For the series, Nene averaged 8.7 points and 7.0rebounds. His size disrupted the Raptors' power forwards such as Tyler Hansborough and Amir Johnson. Not many teams in the playoffs this year have the luxury of a 6-11 power forward. Nene will be a critical player in the upcoming series whether they face Brooklyn or Atlanta.
Marcin Gortat gave the Raptors nightmares in the paint throughout the entire series. He averaged 17.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. The Raptors had no answer for the Wizards when they would run the pick-and-roll with Wall and Gortat. All year, Gortat has proven he was worth the five-year $60 million dollar contract they gave him this past offseason. He will have to continue his high level of play if the Wizards want to continue to advance.
The X-factor for the Wizards was Otto Porter Jr. coming off the bench. After the Wizards selected him 3rd overall in the 2013 draft, Porter had yet to live up to what fans expected. Paul Pierce took Porter under his wing to help him gain more confidence, and it showed in the playoffs. Porter averaged 9.5 points and 7.3 rebounds against the Raptors. He had a number of hustle plays on the offensive and defensive end that provided a swing of momentum for the Wizards. Along with Ramon Sessions and Kevin Seraphin, Porter will be counted on to produce off the bench throughout the remainder of the playoffs.
These 2015 Wizards look unstoppable and now are in the history books. Who's going to stop them?