'Go take care of business': Raptors have to be locked in vs. Wizards
Imman Adan and Jevohn Shepherd discuss the state of the Washington Wizards and the importance for the Raptors to be focused from the jump. Full episode is on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
IMAN ADAN: Looking at the schedule, it's a perfect time to bring in Will Barton. Two games against the Wizards, two games against the Nuggets coming up, just picking his brain to figure out what they do there. So revenge game for Will Barton coming up next.
And this is going to be a really important game, just like this last Bulls one, where the Raptors only play the Bulls three times this season. So they just got tiebreaker over them. They also only play the Wizards three times this season. And all three of the games are coming up right now.
So all of these are incredibly important. The first two will be in Washington. What are you looking for in that first game tomorrow?
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Well, right away, Washington's a team that you're in contention with in that--
IMAN ADAN: Right.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: --play-in seeding area.
IMAN ADAN: It's like the Bulls, yeah.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: You've got to take care of the games that are in front of you, one. But those teams especially, you want to create a gap and create some separation from them. And I think right away, everybody in that locker room, you know that, right?
And this past game against Chicago, you've kind of seen that defensive-- sorry, that playoff mentality, that playoff grit--
IMAN ADAN: And defensive. [LAUGHTER]
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: --right?
IMAN ADAN: Right.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: And that rolls over. That should roll over right now, carry over to Washington. And like you mentioned, you have Will here. So you kind of have a head start on some of the sets, some of the sidelines out of the box, some of the late clock plays and so forth. But you've got to really have a purpose, really be intentional.
You're on the road. And good teams win at home. But great teams win on the road. And again that's about-- that's all about building, growing. And it's coming at the right time because, again, you want to be peaking at the right time. Similar to our conversation earlier where your last game against Chicago, the first three quarters, yeah, they may have been ugly. They may have been horrendous, not the sexiest basketball.
But what is everybody talking about? That the last quarter, the fourth, late fourth when you were executing on both ends, well, this is similar, right?
IMAN ADAN: Yeah.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Nobody's concerned about-- if you finish the season the right way, nobody's concerned about the first three quarters. So this comes at the perfect time. And I think you go into Washington, and you take care of business. You take care of what you're supposed to.
I'm not a believer in Washington. I look at that team, and for the last couple of years, I don't know what direction they're going in. You look at their-- how their team is constructed right now. And 40% of their shots is coming from-- more than 40% of their shots come from Kuzma and Bradley Beal solely.
IMAN ADAN: Right, who went off yesterday in their win.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: I mean, that's your scouting report. And you have the bodies to defend those guys.
IMAN ADAN: Yeah. No, that's completely accurate. I mean, the Wizards are-- I joke that like-- never mind. I'm not going to do it. I'm going to slander the Wizards until we win because if I slander them right now and then go out and lose, I look like the fool. So I'll save it. I'll save it for the weekend.
But so yeah, so the Wizards are actually in such an odd place because this entire week, they're playing teams that have been-- that are around the play-in, right, so teams six through nine. This entire week has been that for them, the Knicks, the Hawks, and now the Raptors.
And then in their last 21 games, they play those teams eight more times. So they're really going to decide what the playoffs and what the play-in picture looks like. And the Raptors have three games against them to sort of decide their fate here as well.
And just, I've paid attention to the Wizards in these last few games just because I'm trying to see like how the Raptors stack up against these other teams in the play-in. And they're the most-- you mentioned it. It's just Kuzma, and it's Bradley Beal. That is their entire team, especially with Kristaps out.
But they are the oddest team. Like they dropped a 19-point lead to the Knicks after looking like they were absolutely cruising for most of the first half. Kuzma gave a too small to Julius Randle. And he was like, no, no, no, no, no, and went off in the second half.
They get blown out by the Chicago Bulls. And then they beat the Atlanta Hawks. I didn't get to catch that game. But they're just all over the place with their consistency. And to me-- maybe I'm speaking a little out of turn. I like to do my reverse jinx.
But it feels like the Raptors have shown just a more consistent stride, especially in the month of February, whereas every game I watch from the Wizards can be completely different because it does so much rely on just two players. And if one of them is having an off night, then they're just not going to have enough scoring power. And they can't really stop anybody either.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Yeah, I think with the Raptors, there's a bit more clarity in terms of their goals. And I think that that stems from the top, right up at Masai. And it trickles all the way down. This team, they're competing for now. Is it a championship team right now? Maybe not. And who knows what can happen when you get into playoff basketball?
IMAN ADAN: They're winning it all.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: [LAUGHS] You said it. Is that a jinx, or is that the real thing?
IMAN ADAN: Oh, they're not winning at all this year, never mind. They're losing it all.
JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Either way, you're going to the playoffs. You compete. But I think, yeah, just there's a bit more direction. There's a bit more clarity in terms of what the agenda is here versus what the agenda is there. And it shows in the play.
Like you mentioned, the consistency in Washington's play, it's here, it's there, it's everywhere. And I think with the Raptors, the reality is, look, whatever's going on over there, that's fine. You take care of your business. You worry about your locker room. You worry about your own teammates, your own coaches, coaching staff, and so forth.
And protect yourself, right? You've got to be going in your own direction and not get caught up in what's over here. You go over there and you win two games in Washington, now you put them behind you, right, and let them figure out their fate. But you don't want to-- especially when you're looking at the seedings, looking at the standings--
And I think sometimes we've gotten too caught up in talking about play-in, when a lot of those teams above in playoff positioning in the East, they've got to take care of their own business as well, right? So if you can just continue to trend in the right direction, you never know what's going to happen above. There's injuries. Even, there's locker rooms that have turmoil. And you've seen that with Brooklyn earlier right before the trade deadline. They just fell apart. So you never know what's going to happen. You've got to take care of yourself.