Take a deep breath, Raptors fans. There will not be a first-round playoff collapse this season.
With a 102-92 victory on Friday night, the Raptors advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals, capturing their fifth playoff series win in franchise history. This was not your typical No. 1 vs. No. 8 playoff matchup, but the better team ultimately came out on top.
Let's take a look at three key takeaways from Game 6...
Raptors' bench mob gets back to business
The starting unit carried Toronto for much of the series, which was certainly a departure from the usual script. The Raptors' reserves averaged more than 40 points per game in the regular season and held the highest plus-minus mark in the NBA (plus-3.6). It was certainly a surprise to see that crew struggle against the Wizards.
But Dwane Casey trusted his bench group, leaving Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl out for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. That five-man lineup started the final frame with an 11-2 run, and the Raptors won the quarter by 15 points, sealing the win. Kyle Lowry also seamlessly joined a few of the bench guys at the six-minute mark, scoring clutch buckets down the stretch to extend his team's lead.
Toronto's bench mob made an impact all season long, often proving to be the difference against opponents lacking depth. That's exactly what happened Friday night.
Miss me with that... pic.twitter.com/5vudJrH0vE- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2018
The importance of Fred VanVleet
Sure, VanVleet isn't a household name among casual NBA fans, but his return from a shoulder injury was huge.
He only played 19 minutes, totaling five points, four assists and four rebounds. However, his ability to organize the offense and harass Wizards guards for 94 feet changed the complexion of the game in the first half. The biggest number to illustrate VanVleet's worth? He finished plus-12 in the box score.
VanVleet simply makes the right plays and does all of the little things to help his team win games.
WELCOME BACK, @FredVanVleet ! #BetOnYourSelf pic.twitter.com/V1jMt4kgTs- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 27, 2018
John Wall, Bradley Beal win battle but lose war
Wall and Beal combined for 55 point in Game 6, nearly 60 percent of Washington's total output. The dynamic duo also outplayed Lowry and DeMar DeRozan for significant portions of the series. That's not how a team advances to the next round, though.
Markieff Morris (12 points) was the only Wizards player outside of Wall and Beal to hit double-digit scoring. Filling in for the injured Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. managed only three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
The Raptors attacked from multiple angles - the Wizards had two options. Game over.
Moving on! @BMO Game Highlights: https://t.co/YZQbf2lXnV pic.twitter.com/F37kzMYC40- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 28, 2018