By Frank McLean
We have now played one game in this best of seven second round playoff series between the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat, and counting the seven games played with the Indiana Pacers the question is still being asked.
Why can’t Kyle Lowry shoot a basketball?
Well he did at the end of regulation time when he jacked up one of those mid court what heck it probably won’t go in the basket shots, which oh my god it did go in the basket to tie the game at 90-all and force overtime.
It was the only three point shot he made the whole game on seven attempts.
His numbers in the game were this 3-13 from the field, zero attempts from the free throw line and seven points.
His partner in the back court has had his problems in the Indiana series, but that had more to do with the Pacers defense.
DeMar Derozan had a 22 point night in Game One against the Heat, but these guys when they combine for 40 points or more, the Raptors usually put another in check in the win column. That was their MO during the regular season. So, if Lowry does not get it going, the Raptors do no not advance.
After the game Lowry made his way to the third floor of the Air Canada Centre where the old practice court is located and just started shooting baskets. About 45-minutes later he came back to the locker room and was humble in talking about his struggles.
“It sucks that I’m playing this bad when all eyes are on me because I know I’m way better than this,” Lowry had said after the game. “So I’ve got to pick this s— up.
“I passed up a lot of shots tonight. I passed up a lot, a ton of shots actually. I think that’s what (this shooting skid) did to me a little bit. It’s crazy, yeah. I shoot the ball well when I’m by myself. It’s a big difference when you’re by yourself than when you’ve got 10 guys out there.”
It’s good news that Lowry can still shoot in practice, it means there’s a chance he’ll come around during this series and sooner rather than later. His head coach Dwane Casey is 100 percent behind Lowry and points out Lowry gives the Raptors a lot more than just shooting.
“The thing about it is his grit,” Casey said after the game. “He was a plus seven. Even though he didn’t shoot the ball, I thought in stretches down the stretch he got stuff done. I thought his bulldog tenacity set the tone for us defensively.”
“Again, we know he is not shooting the ball well, he’s not making the shot he normally makes,” Casey added. “He is just like a hitter, hitters can go through slumps and he’s there. But again, we have to believe in him, he’s going to come out of it. He gives us so much more than he does just shooting the basketball.”
Over in the Miami Heat locker room they are aware of Lowry’s past performance as they say at the race track.
“Kyle Lowry can get it going,” said Heat guard Dwane Wade, a veteran who has had a slump or two in his time. “We have to always be aware of him. He’s an All-Star player in this league. We watched their first series, look when those guys are down they come back fighting.”
The Heat still fear Lowry, they just hope his mojo comes back in training camp in October not in the rest of this series.
We still do not have the answer to the 64-thousand dollar question, what is wrong with Kyle Lowry?
Is he hurt? Back in late March his shooting elbow was injured and had it drained. The elbow was first injured in their game with the Orlando Magic in London, England in January.
Lowry will tell you it’s the mechanics of his shot and nothing else. So you have to believe him.
Slumps happen. Casey is right, it’s like a baseball hitter who can’t hit the baseball. If Lowry is looking for company he can walk out the ACC and head down the street to the Rogers Center where there are a couple of Blue Jays going through a slump named Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki hitting well below .200. Except for those two it’s five months before they reach their postseason.
One thing for sure, the Raptors need Kyle Lowry to get it going. A 30 or 40 point game would be great, but a 20-pointer to go with a 20-pointer from DeRozan would help the cause advance to the conference final. Fortunately for Toronto, if his practice shot really is falling, this is a problem that should fix itself.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.