In Game 4, the Raptors blew out the Bucks, 120-102. Scotiabank Arena is a fortress for the Toronto Raptors. The fans are loud. The adrenaline is pumping. On a night where Kawhi Leonard only scored 19 points, the rest of the Toronto Raptors stepped up. The Raptors were their usual selves: playing their game, shooting 3s, and moving the ball. As a whole, the team knew that it was a must-win game at home, and they won to the tune of an 18 point blowout. I have written in another article that Kyle Lowry is the Raptors win factor, and that if he was able to drop 16+ a game then the Raptors would be able to win the series. Kyle Lowry has showed up to the ECF and winning one in Milwaukee isn’t impossible.
Through 4 games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.3 PPG with 4.3 AST and 5.1 RPG. We are seeing vintage Lowry. We witnessed the Lowry that is aggressive at driving to the basket, drawing contact and still making the defensive plays. Game 4 and Game 1 showed us all one thing: Lowry has still got something in the tank. With Siakam struggling in Game 5 and Leonard only scoring 19 points, the rest of the team had contribute and contribute they did. This all starts with Kyle Lowry: he set the tone and the pace that the Raptors played with, and they got a lot of open looks. Kyle wasn’t especially looking to create: he was looking for his own shot, taking some shots, that we haven’t seen him take a while.
I have always said that Kyle Lowry will do whatever the team needs him to do. As a result of both Leonard and Siakam both playing 52 and 51 minutes respectively in the Game 3 OT win in Milwaukee one could expect fatigue to set in. With Siakam only scoring 7 points, Lowry set the tone throughout the game to keep the buckets flowing. He empowered the team to keep shooting. Sometimes leadership is more than just locker room presence: one has to lead by example. Kyle Lowry makes the right plays and those intangible plays that define the rest of the game. Seeing your leader attack the basket and score buckets gives you a sense of swagger. Kawhi is the best player on the Raptors: but Lowry sets the energy for the rest of the team.
Kyle lowry giving our first team all defense guy the drogas smh https://t.co/3lanXEZUEW
— done out here (@flashyGnius) May 22, 2019
An underrated fact in this series is that Lowry has been dominating his opponent at his position. Eric Bledsoe is averaging 8.3 PPG with 4.0 AST and 4.3 RPG on 25.6 FG% and 9.2% on from 3PT range during this series. All of those statistics are far below his averages on the regular season, and the other series in the Bucks’ playoff run. There were talks of Bledsoe being the “Lowry Stopper”. It is good to see that Lowry has lived up to the all-star expectations in the ECF and quieted those talks a little bit. The key has always been stopping Bledsoe in transition, and that seems to have been the key to slowing down the Bucks’ game. Perhaps Lowry feels he was an all-defense snub. If so, it’s great to see him channel those feelings into torching Milwaukee.
Lowry’s performance was always predicated on confidence. Lowry has said that he is extremely confident in this team. Like I’ve said before, Lowry has never had reliable help in the playoffs. With Kawhi in the lineup he has become the best version of himself. Confident. When talking about Fred Van Vleet’s struggles prior to last night, he mentioned that “it’s all mental sometimes”. That quip applies to the entire Raptors team. Leonard has injected the team with a new found steeliness and resolve in their mentality. Lowry is key in the newfound mental strength: he is leading by example, making key plays whatever they may be. Vintage Lowry is back to drop 20 a game and lead the Raptors to the best post-season in Raptors history.