Raptors' Fred VanVleet Out for Game 1 Against Wizards

NBA Playoffs 2018: Predictions, Picks for Wizards vs. Raptors

And the biggest thing is to get a good foot forward. "We have to be able to close out on point, close out on the catch, know who has the ball and which way to close out on them".

The Warriors, still without Steph Curry, raced to an early lead in the first game in their best-of-seven series with Kevin Durant hitting 24 points and adding eight rebounds, while Klay Thompson had 27 points. Toronto is a big favorite over the eight-seeded Wizards, but the Raptors would be wise to not take Bradley Beal, John Wall and Co. lightly.

And then, finally, everything changed.

Coach Dwane Casey would say afterward, with a smile on his face, that he was feeling just fine at halftime. "And we shouldn't have [expected it]". I'm not going to repeat what they chant sometimes. "But Masai had patience, saw what's coming and stuck with it".

"That's old news, it's years ago", All-Star guard Kyle Lowry said.

"That sequence was big for us just to get the lead back and kind of start to get a little bit of momentum, a little bit more push", Lowry said.

The Wizards rank 14th in second chance points per game (12.6) while the Raptors rank 21st in second chance points allowed per game (13.2).

What follows has become part of club lore.

First Rohingya refugees repatriated to Myanmar despite United Nations safety fears
Repeat concerns have been raised by rights groups about repatriating the thousands who fled before their safety can be guaranteed. Hundreds of Rohingya were reportedly killed in the recent violence, and many houses and villages burned to the ground.

National Basketball Association betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 110.2-93.6, Raptors.

The rewards have been plentiful - consistent success and an organizational culture that seems to breed it. They didn't exactly cruise from there on the way to the 114-106 victory, but when Toronto needed desperately to keep those Game 1 demons from overtaking them, they had found a way to do just that. Yet for no discernible reason whatsoever, the opening game has been this team's downfall.

It would have been easy, in the wake of the Wizards sweep, to change course, to make a trade, to fire a coach.

Entering Saturday, the Raptors had a 1-12 record in the first games of playoff series, but the bench spark and consistent play from the team's core-Serge Ibaka (23 points) led four Toronto starters in double figures-pushed the Raptors past their playoff stigma. We've been great at home all year, and that's something we've worked for and gained that reputation from the beginning of the season, how we ended up playing at the end of the season, so we already had that in our minds. "A lot of things are different".

"It's over with now", DeMar DeRozan, who had 17 points and six assists, said after the game. Gortat will have to perform at his very best to help propel his team to victory on Saturday. There's been a lot of saying like there's no "I" in team.

It's dizzying to think about, even if it's hard to completely shake off the ghost of past playoff stumbles.

Winning this way is not at all unusual for the 2017-18 Toronto Raptors.

Fans need that: a stretch of years to let a team's roots sink in, to come to expect success. It was necessary. And it breaks an infamous streak that Toronto can't wait to put behind them.

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