Raptors Aim To Snap Out Of Recent Funk Against Wizards

The Raptors aim to shake off two straight blowout losses when the Wizards visit Air Canada Center tonight (7 PM, TSN2, FAN590, GET TICKETS).

Probable Starters
TOR – Jose Calderon (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), James Johnson (F), Amir Johnson (F), Aaron Gray (C).
WAS– John Wall (G), Nick Young (G), Jan Vesely (F), Rashard Lewis (F), JaVale McGee (C).

Key Injuries
TOR – Andrea Bargnani (left calf strain) – out, Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) – day-to-day
WAS – Ronny Turiaf (fractured left hand)- out, Andray Blatche (strained left calf) – out

With a 1-9 road record, Washington appears to be the right opponent at the right time for a Raptors team that looked dazed and confused on consecutive nights at both ends of the floor against the Hawks and Celtics earlier this week.

But Dwane Casey wasn’t as concerned about opponent after Thursday’s practice, so much as correcting the intensity level and getting back to fundamentals.

Can the Raptors to regain that defensive energy that kept them in so many games early this season and find the confidence in their offence that was on display last Sunday in New Jersey?

Starting Strong: The Raptors starting five that opened the season and played 11 games together (Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Rasual Butler, Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson) seems like a distant memory with all of those players curently either struggling or injured. Casey has tried six different starting units in the 12 games since, the majority with Bargnani sidelined, as he tries to find a combo that can get the Raptors off to a good start and give them a chance after 12 minutes of play.

Do the Raptors elect to stay with the Wednesday’s starting five of Calderon, DeRozan, J.Johnson, Davis and Gray or make more changes based on the matchups with a longer Wizards team that likes to pick up pace and finish on the fast break? Casey wasn’t tipping his hand after the morning shootaround, so follow @Raptors for updates leading up to tip-off.

Getting Even: If the Raptors need more of a reason to get up for this one, how does revenge work as an angle? The Raptors were thumped in Washington 93-78  with Bargnani in the lineup on January 10th. That began a nasty eight-game slide for the Raptors and gave the Wizards their first victory of the season in nine tries.

Raptors turnovers of the unforced and in-play variety led to way to many easy Wizards fast break opportunities in that first matchup. Those two stats should be critical again tonight.

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