Despite the Raptors losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, there is a lot of hope for the Raptors future in the postseason. Kyle Lowry had his highest scoring game of his postseason and the Twitter TL most certainly was not slandering him. While Kyle Lowry does a lot for the team, and all of those contributions are necessary to win, the one thing that Lowry has been struggling with is his shot. At this point in Lowry’s career, some scoring regression is expected. However this game it seems that he has turned back the clock and came up big in the scoring department. Lowry has always been clear that everything is about the playoffs: he is a true winner at heart. The addition of Kawhi surely helped shape Lowry’s own playoff mentality, and it is showing when it matters.
I think that based on a few factors, that Lowry will keep up this shooting.
1) Lowry has always been an on and off streaky shooter.
It is feast or famine with Lowry’s shooting stroke. Lowry gets very hot for stretches, but also very cold . That has shown in the playoffs, where he is averaging merely 34.2% from 3PT range, which is below what we are accustomed to. Kyle shot 44% from three last postseason through a sample of 10 games. One can assume that his 3PT shooting will trend upwards, since with Lowry, there are games where it seems like he can’t miss, and he will go supernova. Those games are the games that matter: there was a time where Kyle Lowry led the Raptors to a win over the Warriors during the regular season without Leonard: those are the games that matter.
If Kyle Lowry can keep dropping around 16+ points a game, then the Raptors win this series. When he searches for his offense early and succeeds, it creates plenty of space for Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard to drive and score. When Lowry struggles, the opposing defense can zero in on the other scoring options. Siakam is less unguardable than Leonard, so the more attention he gets, the more stagnant the Raptors offense becomes. A combination of those two factors was visible in the 76ers series when Joel Embiid got switched onto Siakam, and Siakam struggled. If Lowry can keep scoring then the Raptors win this series.
2) The Mental Block is gone.
How many times has Kyle Lowry been beaten in the 2nd Round? How many times has he floundered alongside his all-star in the post-season? I’ll save you the trouble and say a lot. Especially when playing against the man above. The 2nd Round has been the ceiling of this team for the last few years, and it tarnishes the fact that the current Raptors culture is built on winning. While this Raptors team has had a high floor in the past few seasons, the ceiling was lackluster at best. The Leonard trade was meant to increase their ceiling.
As we watched Leonard carry the Raptors past the 76ers and hit that winning shot we can’t help but notice that all of the mental aspects associated with the 2nd Round were also dissolved. Norman Powell started hitting threes. Lowry stepped up. Fred Van Vleet made a shot. It seems to be trending up. Game 1 the Raptors played like the regular season Raptors: fast paced with plenty of ball movement, instead of Leonard carrying the roster. Lowry has always lead by example: but it is hard to lead when you’ve been doing the same thing for years with the end goal nowhere closer.
Leonard has brought Lowry to the brink of the finals. As a competitor and as a leader, Lowry will step up. It’s just easier now that the 2nd round demons are exorcised from his psyche.
3) Lowry knows when to step up.
Lowry is at the top of the Raptors record books in win shares. He is a winner through and through. He struggled against the 76ers mightily. That may make people forget all of the small winning plays that he does on a given night. What is admirable to Lowry is that he truly lives up to his nickname, the Pitbull. He may not always have his shot, but he always makes the winning plays. There were many times in the 76ers series where Lowry grabbed a crucial offensive rebound or got a crucial steal. His winning goes beyond just scoring, but we know Lowry can score. Let’s not forget that he scored 7 threes this game: his career best in the playoffs. Lowry knows what needs to happen, and I have the utmost confidence in him for the rest of this series.
To win the team needs him to score, and he will try his hardest to reward his teammates’ trust. Lowry’s winning mentality is in great timing with his current hot streak. Lowry’s shot falls when he’s confident. It seems like getting out of the 2nd round changed his mentality, and now we see him stepping up and being more aggressive. He only had 2 assists in the game, and he has brought back his scoring mentality. This will hopefully keep up into Game 2. Lowry has stretches of play where he plays like a top-tier point guard. We may have just stumbled onto one of those in the playoffs.