The Toronto Raptors made a surge last season into the playoffs. A team that many were not sure about before the 2013-2014 season was led back by a small but strong guard that was working on his third team in his career, Kyle Lowry. It seemed like when he was traded there from Houston that he found a fit for what he does. He was the lead guard in a good system that allowed him to facilitate and also to be a scorer as well. It seemed like everything clicked for him. Lowry averaged 17.9 points per game and also dished out 7.4 assists leading the Raptors to the playoffs last season. Unfortunately the Raptors lost in seven games to the Brooklyn Nets, but the season last year was a success. And along with the success, the expectations for this season rose. Plenty begin to think about the Raptors and what they would be in the 2014-2015 season. And more importantly, the questions surrounded Lowry as to whether he would return to Toronto because he was a free agent. Well, despite the pulls of free agency and signing with another contender, Lowry decided to stay in Toronto. The Raptors and Lowry agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal to stay above the border and continue to build. The expectations were definitely that this team would be able to make a more serious push this season. And with Lowry at the helm, he was expected to be the main reason they made their push.
Lowry was good during the regular season this year. He averaged around the same amount of points and assists he did last season although he was shooting the basketball just a little bit more than he did the previous season. One thing that was an issue with Lowry this year was injuries, but the team still was able to right the ship enough to make it into the playoffs, especially since they are in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. But the Raptors did not just sign Lowry for the regular season. He was signed back to take the Raptors further into the playoffs than they have gone since Vince Carter donned a Raptors jersey. But unfortunately, it seems like an old nemesis has arrived in a new city to disrupt that vision. Veteran forward Paul Pierce, who eliminated the Raptors last season while playing for the Brooklyn Nets, is on the verge of doing so again with the Washington Wizards. The Raptors have yet to get on the board against the Wizards in the playoffs and after the loss last night versus Washington, all hope seems lost with the Raptors. The team has not progressed as some thought they might. Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan has shown up for the Raptors. Although his shooting percentages have been pretty bad, he is playing hard and making an effort to make things happen while averaging 22.3 points in the playoffs. But the man that many pinned the Raptors’ playoff hopes on has been non-existent this playoffs. And ironically the guy that was the man for the Raptors last season has become just a guy on the team in the playoffs.
Kyle Lowry averaged 21.1 points in the playoffs last season for the Raptors and carried them in the playoffs last season in the first round. But that seems like a distant memory when it comes to Lowry in this postseason. Lowry has gone from the face of the team to a man that some forget is on the court this postseason. His average has dropped from the 21.1 points last postseason to a paltry 9.3 points per game this postseason. This is a far cry from what was expected from him this postseason and has no doubt been disappointing to see. Each and every game it seems like John Wall gets the best of him, while he just cannot make things happen to offset what he is doing to him. Lowry’s assist-to-turnover rate is great, but he is shooting an anemic 23.8% from the field and an awful 18.8% from the three-point line. We know that he has battled injuries, but that is no excuse for what we have been seeing from Lowry this postseason. He is supposed to be the star guard alongside DeRozan on this team and he has been anything but for them when it has mattered the most. It is improbable that the Raptors will come back and win this series and much of the blame should be shouldered by one of the Raptors’ marquee players. He has pulled a disappearing act when it matters the most and as a result, the Raptors will be going home earlier than it was expected for them. The hot start they got off to at the beginning of the season is all but forgotten as they play out the string in the last games of their season.
As for Kyle Lowry, the feelings of being the guy to bring the Raptors back will soon be replaced with the thoughts of potentially being overpaid. Of course the Raptors had to try and keep him there for the continuity of the team. And he isn’t the only one that has not shown up in the postseason for the Raptors. But he got paid to bring more success to the Raptors this season when it mattered. And as it currently stands, the Raptors will have the same results they had last season but in five games instead of seven like last postseason.