The Toronto Raptors opened the 2014-15 NBA regular season on a tear thanks to Kyle Lowry, a 6’0″ point guard who casual fans had maybe heard of.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Raptors held the No. 1 standing in the Eastern Conference. Lowry guided the franchise to a 24-7 record, racking up 20.5 points on 45.5 percent shooting, 7.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest. The ninth-year pro and product of Villanova University, earned his first career All-Star bid and was voted a starter.
Following that mid-February outing, however, Lowry’s once-breakout campaign has been overshadowed by slump and injury. During the final two months of the regular season, he buried just 37.3 percent of his attempts and managed averages of 15.1 points, 5.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Lowry also missed 12 games due to a back injury.
Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs must’ve been one of the lowest points of Lowry’s season.
He fouled out of a two-point game with 2:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, finishing his day with seven points on a 2-of-10 mark overall and 0-of-4 from three-point land, adding eight rebounds and four assists. The Raptors eventually lost 93-86 in overtime.
For Toronto to rebound in Game 2, recover to win the series and advance to a tough matchup against the East-leading Atlanta Hawks, Lowry must bounce back and lead the team.
Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams performed admirably in extended minutes, but the Atlantic Division champions can only advance as far as Lowry takes them. Though DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are important contributors who also need to step up, the Raptors need their All-Star point guard most of all.
Lowry’s chance to redeem himself comes on Tuesday, April 21st, at 8 p.m. ET, and he must stop John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Wizards from taking a commanding 2-0 lead back to Washington.
The franchise hasn’t won a playoff series since 2001. Toronto is hoping Lowry can change that.
Photo: USA Today Sports