Toronto Raptors look to escape ghost of playoffs past against Wizards

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: DeMar DeRozan /

History has not been too kind to the Toronto Raptors, but Game 1 against the Washington Wizards gives them a chance to change all of that.

If the Toronto Raptors want to prove this season is different from any other in franchise history, the first game of the 2018 NBA Playoffs is a perfect place to begin.

There are enough players on the team who know the franchise’s poor track record in Game 1, 1-12 to be exact, which puts an enormous amount of pressure right off the start.

The team probably did not expect to open their playoffs against the Washington Wizards, but they have more things to worry about if the Cleveland Cavaliers move on the second round.

Granted, the team should probably worry about the first round before even thinking about LeBron James. They certainly have a target on their back after winning the first seed, but it should also remind the team of all they have accomplished.

It is usually hard for a team to shake off past playoff struggles, especially a team like the Raptors, who will always have those ghost to haunt them unless they can prove this is their year.

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The Raptors were 2-2 against the Wizards this season and Washington knows how to limit Toronto, especially from three-point range. As Benjamin Blum of CBC Sports wrote, the Wizards held the Raptors to 29.6 percent from beyond the arc, below their season average of 35.9 percent.

While the Raptors will need the bench mob to support the stars, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas have to be the reason why Toronto wins the first round.

OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam will be relied upon for their defence, but need to show they can bring something offensively. Another thing to watch as Sportsnet‘s Arden Zwelling wrote in his Raptors preview, playoff Norman Powell would go a long way for Toronto in this series.

Even though the Raptors did not inspire a lot of confidence down the stretch, they should be focused when the intensity of the playoffs kick off. Having that opening game at home should certainly inspire more confidence, with their 34-7 record at the Air Canada Centre.

The Wizards don’t exactly have their best performances on the road with a 20-21 record, so that should inspire confidence from Raptors fans. It would also make them feel confident, if Toronto can make this a short series.

Next: Jonas Valanciunas will be vital to playoff success

What is your prediction for this series? Can the Raptors silence the doubters this postseason? Let us know in the comments below.