Villanova Basketball: Kyle Lowry has finally found his playoff pedigree

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

After struggling for much of the postseason, Kyle Lowry made Villanova basketball fans proud with a solid series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

For the longest time, Kyle Lowry has had to live up the unfortunate moniker of being a regular season player.

Without an elite trait outside of the backhanded compliment of being a really good defender despite his (lack of) size, Lowry has consistently been critiqued for inconsistent postseason performances, and really, 2019 has been no exception.

From failing to score a single bucket in the Toronto Raptors‘ Game 1 bout against the Orlando Magic, to his non-existent role against the supersized Philadelphia 76ers, Lowry had some questioning whether the Raptors had a second star at all, with a few even going so far as to question whether Nick Nurse‘s squad would ever represent the East in the NBA Finals with the Villanova product at point guard.

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But here we are, it’s 2019, and for the first time in franchise history, the Raptors are headed to the NBA finals.

Now granted, is the Raptors sudden rise largely because of the superb play of Kawhi Leonard, arguably the best two-way player in the game right now? Oh yeah, most definitely, but the six-game series against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, Lowry was easily the third best player on the court.

In the East, that’s enough.

Facing off against the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, and George Hill – none of whom are slouches – Lowry averaged 19.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.5 rebounds a game while shooting 70.8 percent from the line, 50.9 percent from the field, and percent 48.8 from 3 respectively.

Now these numbers aren’t particularly impressive when compared to the likes of Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who each averaged over 22 points a game, but they are a significant upgrade over Lowry’s playoff averages as a whole, improving in every category besides free throws and assists.

One could even go so far as to argue that without Lowry’s improved play, this series would probably still be going on into Game 7, and may result in the Bucks, not the Raptors representing the East in what will certainly be an interesting finals against the Golden State Warriors.

With a renewed sense of confidence, and his first trip to the finals in his 13-year career, how Lowry performs against the warriors guard rotation of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and Quinn Cook will go a long way in determining just how much of a chance the Raptors have in the finals, and honestly, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write when Lowry was dropping a goose egg against the Orlando Magic in Game 1.

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Despite intense external scrutiny and a bevy of opinion is questioning his long-term viability as an elite player, Kyle Lowry truly came into his own in the Toronto Raptors series against the Milwaukee Bucks, and for fans of the Villanova Wildcats, it couldn’t have come at a better time.