TORONTO – The first round of the 2014-15 playoffs hung over the start of this year’s rematch between the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors. In the earlier edition, the Wizards swept the Raptors, sending them to large-scale changes and setting up a narrative that will persist at least until the end of the current rematch, depending on how things go: The Raptors can’t win in the playoffs, because their perennially excellent regular-season offense dries up there.
That probably wasn’t fair or predictive given the roster churn for both sides since then, but that narrative won’t be shaken until the Raptors fulfill the full promise of their roster in the postseason. There was a subplot from that earlier series that maybe didn’t carry enough weight entering this one, though: The 2015 playoffs were essentially the education of Otto Porter, a trial-by-fire defensive test in the form of four games opposite DeMar DeRozan.
To that point, Porter had yet to consistently deliver on the promise of his 6’9 frame with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, strong block, steal, and rebound rates for a wing, and the second-best WARP projection in the class that made him the No. 3 pick in 2013. He was just a sophomore, after all, and after playing sparingly as a rookie, his second season provided occasional, if irregular, flashes. In the playoffs, though, Porter would be paramount.
“That was my first time really being out on the court in the playoffs,” Porter told Dime at shootaround Tuesday. “I was just trying to do whatever it takes to stay out there on the court. And then I had to guard an All-Star in DeMar DeRozan, which was hard. Like, nothing was easy about it. He’s an All-Star for a reason, and he’s only gotten better since then. He’s gotten way better since then. But it was just a great experience to play against a top-notch player like that in a time where everything counts. Like, this is what you’ve been playing for. This is what you worked for. Playing against him really helped me out, to develop.”