The Toronto Raptors received some positive news ahead of their game versus the Philadelphia 76ers, with Kyle Lowry confirming he will play.
A lot of folks have been focused on the Toronto Raptors‘ pursuit of the Milwaukee Bucks at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and rightly so. Despite how things played out last season, having home-court advantage for the playoffs is never a bad thing.
However, the team should at least be looking over their shoulders every so often, at the teams below them in the standings. Otherwise, if head coach Nick Nurse and his players aren’t careful, they might not even keep a hold of the number two seed in the East.
In this respect, the Raptors face a crucial game on Tuesday night, as they visit the Philadelphia 76ers. While there are definitely cases to be made for the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, the 76ers are arguably the team most capable of overtaking Toronto in the standings.
As such, the last thing the Raptors want to do is lose to the 76ers in Philadelphia, and give them any more confidence. Along these lines, the team received some positive news on Tuesday morning.
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As reported by Raptors’ play-by-play man Eric Smith, Kyle Lowry has said he will play against the 76ers. This was later confirmed by Nurse, who told Smith the point guard is feeling good and is ready to go.
If we’re honest, it is somewhat surprising that Lowry will be playing on Tuesday night. And that’s despite the fact he claims he could have suited up on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, but wanted to be cautious.
Consider that the five-time All-Star missed practice on Monday, the day after the Clippers game. Certainly, this is more in keeping with being cautious.
After sitting out the Clippers game, we weren’t necessarily expecting Lowry to miss 10 of 11 games, as he did earlier this season. However, there is no denying his ongoing back issues are having a major impact on him, hence we would have predicted he would be absent for more than one contest this time.
The Raptors need a healthy Lowry for the playoffs, if they are to have a genuine chance of making their first ever trip to the NBA Finals. As such, giving him as much rest as possible would seem to be the smartest approach.
This approach becomes even more sensible, when considering how the 32-year-old’s shooting has been impacted by his lingering back issues. He is on course for his worst overall shooting season since the 2012-13 campaign, which was his first in Toronto.
Pretty much across the board, Lowry’s shooting stats are poor: field goal percentage, three-point shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage and so on. He is currently averaging 14.1 points per contest, which would again be his worst showing since 2012-13.
For what it’s worth, the 2006 first round draft pick is also on course for his best every season passing the rock, averaging 9.2 assists per game entering Tuesday night. However, even here you have to wonder how much of this is a reflection of a loss of form — and confidence – with his shooting?
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Lowry performs against the 76ers. Understandably, there will be a lot of concern that playing again so soon will only further aggravate his sore back.
Raptors fans can only hope that the team know what they are doing. As much as Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the roster, Lowry is still the leader, capable of playing a prominent role when the playoffs roll around.
Any concerns about Lowry returning so soon, or are you glad he will be in the lineup on Tuesday night? Regardless, do you expect the Toronto Raptors to win or lose against the Philadelphia 76ers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.