The Toronto Raptors will return from a 2-2 road trip to open a four-game homestand with a clash against the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
The Raptors completed their trek with a 117-94 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
The Wizards lost 102-94 to the host Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon after overcoming a 17-point deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Washington has dropped six of its past seven games.
The Raptors’ road trip included an impressive win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. It also had benefits that included some long practices and bonding as the team creates an identity.
“There is a feel to it,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “Definitely conversations that guys are here and with each other. It’s our locker room. It’s our energy in the practices. It’s all of that. And at the same time, we’re a team that right now we’re leading the league in potential assists. And that’s something that we really pride ourselves in, moving the ball and playing for each other and creating opportunities for each other.
“And I think that we are growing as a team. We’re still figuring out lineups and positions and who’s in what position (and will be) most successful.”
Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 17 points on 6-for-17 shooting in Boston. Dennis Schroder scored 14 points, Jakob Poeltl had 12 and Scottie Barnes added 10 on 4-for-15 shooting as he has cooled off in the past couple of games after a strong start to the season.
Rajakovic said better defense helps to create better offense; however, he did not see that in Boston.
“We’ve got to be able, first of all, to get stops,” Rajakovic said. “And when we’re getting stops and rebounding and getting deflections to steals, that’s a way of running our offense. We scored only 12 points in transition (Saturday). We’re always in fast break, we’re flirting with 25, 26 points in transition. So that was a big deal (Saturday) and definitely slowed us down into entering in our offense and executing halfcourt.”
The Wizards’ leading scorer Sunday was rookie Bilal Coulibaly, who had a season-best 20 points off the bench. He added seven rebounds but also made a crucial turnover down the stretch.
Coulibaly, 19, led a comeback that had Washington leading by five points with 6:07 to play in the fourth quarter.
“He was really good,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of Coulibaly. “He looks really calm out there, very confident. He’s aggressive. He’s got a pretty good read on when and how. He looks comfortable behind the 3-point line, which is I think a bright spot. I just think (he needs to) continue to build.”
“He’s just such a sponge,” said Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, who had 15 points and four rebounds Sunday. “He wants to be a really good basketball player. And he’s very mature. You can see that in how he plays. He plays with a level of composure, doesn’t make too many mistakes.”
Washington’s Delon Wright (sprained left knee) will be out for at least three weeks. Wright was injured Friday in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
–Field Level Media