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Playing Raptors in Tampa is another reminder of weird season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
In case anyone on the Wizards had grown used to the oddities of the 2020-21 NBA season as it's being played during a worldwide pandemic, they were served another reminder on Monday as they arrived at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Fl to take on the Toronto Raptors.
Due to coronavirus restrictions across the border of the United States and Canada, the Raptors have relocated for this entire season to call home the same arena where the NHL's Lightning play. The Wizards made their first trip to see the Tampa Raptors this week and will head back there on May 6 for the season finale between the teams.
"Very, very strange, to put it very blunt. First time in Tampa, beautiful city," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I love going to Toronto. It’s one of the great cities in the world. Not being there and playing the Raptors, it’s odd. There’s no other way to explain it. It’s odd and it’s weird, but this whole season with COVID has been weird."
The Raptors have been affected more by the challenges of this season than any other team in the sense they had to uproot their lives to play on the other side of a continent. But the Wizards can relate to the Raptors in that they had a significant outbreak in January that forced six games to be postponed. Toronto had a similar ordeal as two games were lost in late February and early March due to positive tests.
Though the Raptors didn't miss as much time as the Wizards did, they struggled similarly following their outbreak. Toronto has lost 13 of 15 games since the two postponements. They had won 10 of 15 games before that stretch.
Brooks suggested the Wizards are still seeing the effects of their outbreak, possibly with the physical conditioning of players who had it.
"They’re one of the teams like us. They’ve been through a lot of craziness through this year. They’ve been hit just as hard as us and they’re still feeling it just like us," Brooks said.
"We don’t really know exactly all the areas that it hit us; physically and mentally. It takes a toll on the players and the team. Two years ago, this team was a championship team. Now, they’ve been beat up pretty hard by Covid as well."
The Raptors are 11th in the East at 19-30, while the Wizards are 12th at 17-31. Both teams cling to hopes of making the play-in tournament despite a disappointing and tumultuous season so far.