Despite advancing to the second round, ex-Villanova Wildcats point guard Kyle Lowry’s playoff struggles have persisted with the Toronto Raptors.
In the realm of sports, the term ‘regular-season player’ gets bounced around with some regularity.
Whether due to a player’s lack of conditioning, a lack of athletic prowess, or an inability to sustain high levels of play over additional games, there’s no term that quicker jettisons even the best players from a team in championship contention than being dubbed a player that can’t perform in the postseason.
Need proof? Look no further than the Toronto Raptors‘ best homegrown player this decade DeMar DeRozan. Despite wearing the red and black with pride, and signing an extension without even taking another visit, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri unceremoniously shipped the 29-year-old out-of-town for a (probably) single season of contention with a former Finals MVP.
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However, while the Raptors are without a doubt a better team now Kawhi Leonard at the helm then they were with the DeRozan as their number one option, one half of their 2017-18 backcourt starters remain on the team, and has unfortunately continued to show a lack of playoff aptitude: former Villanova Wildcats point guard Kyle Lowry.
Playing on the second year of a three-year, $100 million contracts he signed before the 2017-18 season began, Lowry has once again struggled to make much of an impact in either of the Raptors first to series so far this postseason, averaging 12.3 points, and eight assists while knocking down roughly 28 percent of his 3 point attempts.
Granted, those stats are slightly skewed by a zero-point performance in the postseason opener against the Orlando Magic, but even with that removed, Lowry’s off to his worst postseason stat line since 2014-15, the year in which his team was swept in the first round.
But how could this be? How could a player averaging 14.2 points and 8.7 assists over the regular season watch his production noticeably drop off despite playing more minutes?
Well, the obvious answer would be his size.
Measuring in at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, Lowry is among the shortest players left in the postseason; one who can more or less be neutralized without that much effort by most opposing guards.
With a shaky outside shot, and at taller defender almost always on him, Lowry has struggled to find spots where his skillset can shine through, and he can help his team win.
Clearly the team’s third offense of option at best thanks to the emergence of Pascal Siakam as a legitimate 3-and-d combo forward, Lowry has been pretty much a non-factor in all seven of his teams games so far this postseason; scoring the quietest 20 points of any player in recent memory in the team’s Game 2 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
While Lowry can still clearly play at a high level, without a T.J. McConnell-type to impose his will upon, the 33-year-old has largely become an afterthought for Nick Nurse‘s squad; a thought that would have seemed ridiculous a year or so ago.
With as many as five more games to play against the Sixers, with three of which coming in his hometown of Philadelphia, it will be increasingly interesting to see if Nurse can find a way to highlight Lowery moving forward, or if he will forever be just a ‘regular season guy’. For fans in the 215, who bleed red, white, and blue more than just blue and white, let’s hope these issues persist at least for the next week or so.