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Washington Wizards start season with win against Raptors

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The Washington Wizards kicked off their season in the best way possible with a 98-83 win over the Toronto Raptors. They maintained a comfortable lead for most of the game and held Toronto to just 30.9 percent shooting from the floor and (30/97) and 20.6 percent on 3-pointers (7/34). Washington came away with the win despite scoring under 100 points and shooting just 5/27 on 3-pointers themselves.

This game marked the Wizards debut of newly acquired point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. It was a solid showing for him, as he tallied 13 points and 6 assists in 26 minutes of action. It seemed as though he was often still getting a feel for playing with his new teammates, his aggressiveness and assertiveness on offense will likely increase as he gets more comfortable in his role.

Outside of Dinwiddie, Bradley Beal scored 23 points on 7-19 shooting, but was a team-high +24 for the game and went 8-8 from the free-throw line. Additionally, Forward Montrezl Harrell had a bit of a surprise performance, pouring in 22 points on 9/11 shooting plus 9 rebounds. Center Daniel Gafford also had an understated impact, blocking four shots in 22 minutes and going 3-3 from the floor. The Wizards organization is undoubtedly pleased to see this from Gafford already after signing him to a three-year $40 million deal. 

Kyle Kuzma recorded a double-double in his first game in a Washington uniform, going for 11 points and 15 rebounds. He slid into the starting spot likely due to the unavailability of Rui Hachimura but could audition to keep it if he continues to play well. 2021 first-round pick Corey Kispert was a DNP-Coach’s Decision along with Anthony Gill and fellow draftee Isaiah Todd. 

For Toronto, it was a rough night offensively, with Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet tying for the team lead in scoring with 12 points each. VanVleet was just 5/20 from the field overall and 1/9 on 3-pointers. Barnes was slightly better at 5/13 and flashed some intriguing scoring ability out of the post and in transition. OG Anunoby, who was second in scoring with 11 points, was also a paltry 3/17 overall. 

While this was not a particularly pretty game of basketball for either team, neither should knee-jerk too hard after the first game of the season. The Wizards will likely need a few weeks to fine-tune their drastically different roster from last season. Growing pains are inevitable with such turnover, as adjustments need to be made for lineups to be optimized.

For Toronto, they are still currently without star player Pascal Siakam as he recovers from a shoulder injury he suffered towards the end of last season. His delayed return could actually be a blessing in disguise, as it will allow some of their young players and rookies like Barnes to get more opportunities to grow early in the season. 

Overall, this was a solid start to the season for the Wizards. For a team that struggled mightily defensively last season, holding a team to 83 points in the first game of the season is a great way to kick things off. A win is a win no matter how it is sliced, and they will look to build on this strong start in their second game this Friday against the Indiana Pacers. Here’s to hoping this new-look roster can come away with a second win to start the year. 

All stats courtesy of ESPN and Basketball-Reference

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