Toronto Raptors: 6ix Takes – Lowry’s shooting woes a ‘pesky’ problem for Dinos

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /
5 of 7
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

4. Improving in the clutch

The Toronto Raptors have been one of the better clutch teams this season. Take a peek at the numbers yourself, but a quick glance and you’ll see the Dinos are towards the top.

As good as they’ve been, the Raptors were laughably bad in the closing stages of the Celtics game and wound up falling short in what was a very winnable game.

A glaring issue with Toronto’s clutch offence stemmed from players simply watching Kawhi Leonard. No cutting, no screening, just standing around and watching. Leonard is good, but the team can’t just leave him to go one-on-five in the game’s most pressure-packed moments.

It’s a tempting not to mention effective strategy to get the ball in Kawhi Leonard’s hands once crunch time rolls around. He’s undeniably this team’s best closer and everybody with an ounce of basketball knowledge knows it. Leonard’s season usage stands at 29-percent, however, in the last five minutes of five-point games (plus or minus), his usage spikes to 40 percent (39.6). In the last three minutes, 38.4 percent, and in the final minute, 37.1 percent.

Again, don’t take what this as an indictment on Nick Nurse’s decision to involve Leonard more in big games, as I wholeheartedly agree with that way of thinking. But the ball in Leonard’s hands needs to be supplemented by his teammates staying active off the ball.

Following the Boston game, Leonard didn’t mince words talking about the team’s performance down the stretch:

"“Sometimes when I do have the ball, there’s no movement, just everybody watching me.” – Kawhi Leonard, following the team’s 117-108 loss to the Celtics (via Sportsnet)"

Lowry’s shooting struggles don’t help things, but after what we saw against Phoenix, perhaps Pascal Siakam is given more offensive responsibilities late in games?