SPORTS

NBA Playoffs: Raptors draw Wizards in 1st round

04/16/2015 01:33 EDT | Updated 06/27/2015 07:59 EDT
The Toronto Raptors won on Wednesday night, but so did the Chicago Bulls.

That means Toronto finishes fourth in the Eastern Conference and will face off against the Washington Wizards in the first round.

Game 1 is set for Air Canada Centre at 12:30 p.m. ET.

This may not end well for the Dinos.

Yes, the Raptors swept the season series against the Wizards. However, all of those wins came before the All-Star break, with the last one needing DeMar DeRozan to hit a late-game jumper over notorious Raptor-killer Paul Pierce.

Speaking of Pierce, the veteran already has a head start in the trash-talking department. The veteran, whose series-ending block of Kyle Lowry last year is still fresh in Raptors fans' minds, doesn't feel that Toronto has the "it" factor to contend in the playoffs.

"Paul Pierce has always got to say something," DeRozan fired back after the Raptors' win on Wednesday. "He said something last year. He's always got to say something. Just let him talk. I could care less what he says."

As for the on-court action, the Wizards will look to body up inside with Nene and Marcin Gortat. This could pose problems for Toronto's defensively-challenged Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors' undersized forward core.

Amir Johnson recently returned from an ankle injury and played sparingly on Wednesday against Charlotte. His health will determine how successful Toronto will be against Washington's big men.

The most compelling matchups will be with the guards. Kyle Lowry is back from injury and DeRozan has been impressive in the final stretch of the regular season. They will surely have their hands full with Washington's explosive duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Given their continued development as individual and team players, the "House of Guards" should return for another sinister post-season.

​Toronto does have a more cohesive and productive second unit, with Lou Williams, Greivis Vasquez and James Johnson all capable of relieving the starters. Ultimately it will have to be the Raptors' first five to not only start strong, but close out games as well.

The Raptors will have home court advantage in the series, which begins on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.

NBA playoff matchups

​Eastern Conference

#1 Atlanta Hawks vs #8 Brooklyn Nets

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #7 Boston Celtics

#3 Chicago Bulls vs #6 Milwaukee Bucks

#4 Toronto Raptors vs #5 Washington Wizards

Western Conference

#1 Golden State Warriors vs #8 New Orleans Hornets

#2 Houston Rockets vs #7 Dallas Mavericks

#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs # 6 San Antonio Spurs

#4 Portland Trail Blazers vs #5 Memphis Grizzlies

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