Three Things to Watch: Wizards at Raptors 11/7

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Battle of the backcourts

Feb 27, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) shoots over Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

While the Washington Wizards have been in the conversation about which team in the NBA has the best backcourt, the Toronto Raptors have quietly assembled one of the most underrated tandems in the league.

Behind point guard Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors made the playoffs last year. The duo picked up where they left off last year, as both are the top-two scorers on the team.

DeRozan leads the team with 22 points per game while Lowry is right behind with 19.6 points per game. Lowry is shooting an astounding .500 from the field, while DeRozan is shooting a hair under .400 at 39.8 percent.

Washington’s backcourt – John Wall and Garrett Temple – have been leading the team as of late. Wall leads the team with 21.4 points per game. He’s also averaging 10 assists and has four double-doubles in five games. Temple is averaging 13.8 points per contest and is shooting 51.9 percent from three.

Temple, who has made a name for himself playing defense, will have a tough task stopping DeRozan. Wall will also have a tall task against Lowry.

In four games last season, Wall outscored Lowry 101-73, with two 30-point games (37 in a 96-88 loss and 31 in a 134-129 3OT game). But Lowry put his teammates in better positions in those four games, as he dished out 41 assists compared to Wall’s 21. Wall also turned the ball over eight more times than Lowry (18-10) in head-to-head match-ups last season.

Defensively, Wall will need to prevent Lowry’s ability to drive in the paint. Lowry has made a name for himself getting by defenders for layups and close shots.Wednesday night, Wall struggled to get around picks to stay on Donald Sloan. He’ll need to do a much better job against a much better player Friday.

Temple will need to worry about stopping DeRozan’s perimeter game but be mindful of his ability to quickly blow by defenders and drive to the paint.

To get things going offensively, Wall needs to just play his game and draw defenders to free up other plays, especially Temple on the wing.

When it comes to the bench, Toronto’s backcourt reserves pose a formidable problem for Andre Miller and Glen Rice, Jr./Otto Porter.

Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams are fifth and sixth in scoring for Toronto, respectively. Vasquez is averaging 9.4 points per game while Williams is averaging 8.8 points. Vasquez has shown very good ball control this season, as he’s turned it over just 0.8 times per game and holds an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8.

Both Miller and Rice have been virtually non-existent offensively (yes, Rice missed a few games). They’ll need to play their best games of the young season against the Raptors on Friday.