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Raptors Rise And Fall With The Kyle Lowry Three-Ball

The Toronto Raptors hot start to the season has been showing some cracks lately as, once again, this team’s success rests in the hands of their four-time All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry.

It isn’t hard to see when the Raptors are in trouble. Their three-ball isn’t falling and when the usually reliable Lowry tries to step in and provide some long range help, his shots go astray as well. Lowry is putting up six threes on average, win or lose, but in wins, he hits on 43.2 percent and in losses he only sunk two in 24 tries or 8.3 percent.

“Missed a couple of shots,” Lowry said after the OT loss in Boston. “I got to play better.

“Shooting the ball pretty bad lately. So I got to find a way to get a rhythm.”

Even with a 12-4 record and sitting top 10 in three-point makes and attempts, Toronto isn’t a great three-point shooting team. They hoist an impressive 33.6 three-point attempts per game and make a respectable 11.2 threes, but even in wins they only shoot a pedestrian 36.8 percent and in losses that plummets to a terrible 24.4 percent. There’s a temptation to give the opposition some credit for great perimeter defense, but that would be a mistake. The eye test says, when the Raptors shoot poorly, it’s mostly on themselves.

Watching the Raptors in losses is frustrating. A team that averages 118.7 points in wins puts up nine fewer points in losses and doesn’t look like they could put the ball in the ocean from beyond the arc. If Lowry and company could hit threes at the same lukewarm pace they sink them in wins, they’d put up about 13 more points and most if not all of those Ls would be Ws.

It’s early days in the 2018-19 season and most teams are going thru some kind of struggle to get in shape, find their shooting touch, and/or create or re-create some team chemistry. The hot start Raptors came out the gates with is largely on the shoulders of Lowry and when he’s off his game, it shows.

Outside of Danny Green and the injured Norman Powell, no one on the Raptors is hitting threes at the rate expected over the entire season. Minor injuries and unfortunate distractions have undoubtedly hurt the Raptors rhythm.

However, even as the rest of the crew finds their stroke in the weeks ahead, the guy putting the most pressure on opposing defenses from deep is still going to be their starting point guard. Higher expectations based on a significantly upgraded roster aside, this team still rises and falls with Lowry.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.