The toughest player on the Toronto Raptors is Kyle Lowry and he might still be their toughest player even though he obviously hasn’t felt up to that label since the middle of March. Lowry is hurting, admitted or not, the back spasms that kept him out of nine games heading towards the end of the regular season are still impacting him now and a player with a sore back is going to struggle being the toughest guy on his team.
Lowry came back with four games left in the regular season and it was painfully obvious to anyone watching that this wasn’t the same player that had carried the Raptors on his now very sore back to a new franchise record for wins.
In his first three games back in April, Lowry shot 28.3 percent from the field and an unheard of 17.6 percent from three-point range. Then came the final game of the regular season at home against a Charlotte Hornets team that was mentally in the Bahamas already and Lowry hit 6-9 three-point attempts and scored 26 points, but that wasn’t reality. That was the equivalent of shooting in a gym by yourself and that was quickly confirmed in game one of the playoffs where Lowry was 2-10 from the field and 0-4 from deep.
Through the first three playoff games Lowry has shot 23.8 percent from the field, 18.8 percent from three-point range and despite his obvious hustle and effort, he just can’t do the things that garnered him an All-Star berth in the first half of the season. The Wizards might want to give their stifling defense credit, but Lowry is just missing shots he would normally make.
The Raptors toughest player is still making a contribution. His plus/minus over the three playoff games is zero and that’s pretty impressive considering just how poor his own offense has been. The Raptors aren’t losing while he’s been on the court, but they aren’t winning either and this team relies on Lowry to win games.
All the avoidance and denials by Lowry about his health can’t change what is being witnessed on the court and Head coach Dwane Casey’s assertion that every player is hurting somewhere doesn’t really apply to a sore back. There are some things a player just can’t overcome by the shear force of will.
There are no magic cures for a sore back except time and its unlikely there’s enough time left in this season for the All-Star version of Lowry to re-appear. The Raptors are just going to have wait until next year.
photo credit Paul Saini Fylmm.com