There are few to no words remaining in the entirety of the English language that can describe how Kyle Lowry plays basketball.
After one of the most impressive performances of Lowry’s career in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics, where he dropped an efficient 33 points, and made the game-winning pass to find OG Anunoby in the corner for a miracle shot, he wouldn’t let his fire burn out on Saturday night.
Opening the game with a quick 11 first quarter points – similarly to how he did in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals – Lowry once again set the tone for his team, coming out firing on all cylinders. Though he would only double that scoring output through the following 36 minutes of the contest, Lowry still made some of the biggest plays of the game. From taking a charge against Jaylen Brown, to drawing a game-sealing offensive foul against Jayson Tatum, Kyle was the Raptors’ best player on both ends of the floor once again.
Beyond his stellar play, it was Lowry’s his heart and hustle that has Raptors fans believing they can win this series. Following a game in which Kyle set the record for minutes played in a non-overtime playoff game, the 34-year-old played a whopping 43:47 again, bringing his minutes total over the last two games to over 90.
As Yahoo Sports Canada’s William Lou discussed in his postgame podcast, there’s something legitimate to read into here. Though Nick Nurse playing such a tight seven man rotation may come down to hurt the Raptors later on, his players are used to playing big minutes. Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam ranked 4th, 8th, and 11th respectively in minutes per game during the regular season. Contrarily, none of the Celtics ranked in the top 20. In The Playoffs, star players are required to play bigger minutes, and be at their best down the stretch. Ultimately, the Raptors’ experience, combined with their stamina and mental toughness may favour them in this series.
Already, we’ve seen how the Raptors are getting better as the series goes on, while the Celtics are dwindling away. One wouldn’t expect Kemba Walker to settle for only nine field goal attempts again in this series like he did in Game 4, nor Jaylen Brown to shoot an abysmal 4/18 from the floor, however one thing that fans can count on is the fact that Marcus Smart will not shoot like Reggie Miller again like he did in Game 2. At the same time however, part of Boston’s terrible three-point shooting in Game 4 can be accredited to Toronto’s suffocating defensive schemes, which Pascal Siakam admitted, they have “a lot” of.
The biggest bright spot for Raptors fans may be that the team is finally beginning to look complete again, and they may have found their footing playing against an elite defensive team. The Raptors had the best record in the league playing against opponents with a sub .500 record during the regular season, however now they’re learning to beat good teams too. Kyle Lowry is a guarantee in any given game to be a positive. Fred VanVleet is good to give you five threes, plus some good defense night in and night out. Serge Ibaka has been steady as an old turtle all postseason. Finally, Pascal Siakam may be getting back to his pre-shutdown mode as well.
Last night, the All-Star Starter began the game shooting 1/7, though all of his shot attempts were from three-point range. After finding some early success off cuts, drives, and post-ups, he would continue to go to his bread and butter, and end the game shooting 10/23, including 8/10 from inside the arc. If he can continue to play so efficiently, and start to recover his three-point stroke, the Raptors will be tough for anybody to beat.
OG’s shot at the end of Game 3 was worth much more than three points. It was more than your average game-winner. Heck, it was even more than a season-saver. That shot may very well have carried the weight of the entire series on its shoulders, because the Raptors have all of the momentum in the world. It’s a good time to be a Toronto Raptors fan.