As the Toronto Raptors continue their push towards the playoffs, a lot of that would not be possible without the contributions from Kyle Lowry.
Over the years, the Toronto Raptors have embraced the underdog mentality, especially in 2019 when they won the NBA title. The unquestioned leader during that time was Kyle Lowry.
When he left the team for the Miami Heat, there were certainly question marks on what this would do to the Raptors. What many probably did not expect was how Lowry’s influence would carry over and allow this team to remain as a playoff contender.
We see it in the way Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have taken the lessons Lowry taught them to heart. His impact was celebrated with his return to Toronto when he played his first game against his former team since joining the Miami Heat.
Fortunately, Raptors fans got their chance to show their appreciation for what Lowry had provided to the organization. It took longer than expected considering the team wasn’t playing in Toronto because of the pandemic but sometimes it’s better late than never.
"“It meant the world to me for the fans to show their appreciation, to give me an ovation like that, to be out on the floor with some of my former teammates, my brothers,” said Lowry. “It’s one of those things where the first time is always special. You don’t forget that. I think the organization showed how classy they are and they showed me that everything I did here meant the world to them, just like vice-versa.”"
While the Raptors are not seen as championship contenders this season, they have the foundation to get back there again. They are proving to be a tough team to play against even for the elite teams.
How far can the Toronto Raptors expect to go in the playoffs?
The Raptors’ regular season is almost done and right now the team’s priority has to be on their place in the Eastern Conference because it will play a big part in their chances in the first round of the playoffs.
They are in a battle against the Chicago Bulls to finish fifth in the East and if they do, it would mean a potential matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers who are fourth right now. That could change if Philly moves past the Milwaukee Bucks who are in third.
It’s clear what the Raptors preferred matchup likely is and that’s the 76ers given they haven’t exactly reached the level of the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and the Bucks in their play at both ends of the court.
Toronto plays Philadelphia on April 7 and it will be interesting to see how the lineup sets up in that one. You have to think the Raptors also are confident in their ability to beat the 76ers considering they are 2-1 against them this season.
If they have to take on one of the top three teams or even the Nets, that would significantly reduce their chances to move on. It’s something that they should keep in mind with a handful of games left.
What type of legacy did Lowry leave with the Raptors? What do you think of their chances to get back into a contender position? Who would you like to see then take on the playoffs?