Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry must recover from Game One struggles

Kyle Lowry’s shooting performance left a lot to be desired as the Toronto Raptors dropped game one of their opening series to the Orlando Magic. Can he bounce back and help the team progress?

The feeling of pain that the Toronto Raptors delivers is a pretty familiar feeling, right?

After last night’s nail-biting loss to the Orlando Magic in game one of the first round, the Raptors overall record in game one’s now sits at 2-14.

There are a few key talking points from last night, but the one that obviously sticks out like a sore thumb is the performance of Kyle Lowry, who finished with zero points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and two steals in 33 minutes of action.

Really though, it was only Lowry’s shooting performance that affected the game in a negative way. Regardless, he has to do better if the Raptors want to progress, even if the team did suffer when he wasn’t on the court.

While the team doesn’t need Lowry to be a 20 points a night guy every night, any sort of compensation in terms of points is a bonus. This is merely an aberration though, and concerning yourselves with the performance of Lowry on the big stage is unnecessary.

True, Kyle is supposedly known for choking in the playoffs. But that doesn’t actually make it true. Sure, he’s had bad games, who hasn’t?

He was the top performer for the Raptors in last year’s playoffs, scoring 17.9 points per game, dishing out a career-high 8.5 assists per game in the playoffs, all while shooting with a 65-percent true-shooting percentage and outside of a few bad games, has been a consistent performer for the Raptors.

I can defend him all I want, but even the most avid supporter can admit that last night left everyone scratching their collective heads.

That begs the question, how does Lowry bounce back from his awful shooting night?

Keep shooting

This one should seem fairly obvious. The only way you’re going to get out of the funk is to keep pushing through it. No-one, ever, accomplished something by just giving up.

We’ve seen far too many players shy away from taking open shots when they’re out of their groove, but unless they’re getting the ball to a better scoring position, it doesn’t really help.

Lowry needs to keep putting up the shots and just hope that one falls. Once it falls, your luck can change dramatically.

Even if it doesn’t, you’ve got to stay aggressive. That doesn’t just mean force shots at every opportunity, but if the three is there, don’t hesitate. Lowry is too good of a shooter to fall into another slump.

Attack the rim

I suppose this point maybe contradicts its precursor friend, but there’s always the option of attacking the rim if nothing is falling.

Lowry, despite his diminutive size, is still shooting 64-percent around the rim, which is pretty impressive. Realistically, he doesn’t have the breakaway speed to get past someone and to the rim, but we’ve seen him come off hand-offs and attack the rim with success so it can work.

Of the seven shots Lowry attempted last night, only one of them came from within the three-point line.

As previously mentioned, take the three-pointers when they’re there, but if every shot you take is a three then defenses know what to set up for and your life gets a little harder.

It’s about building your confidence, and sometimes that’s easier to do right at the rim.

Don’t stop distributing

Whatever happens, Lowry can’t stop distributing. It remains the key to the Raptors success. Kyle has proven to be a great shooter in the past, he’s only one year removed from shooting 40-percent from three on over seven attempts per game.

But still, it’s his ability to distribute the ball that makes him who he is. Lowry averaged 8.7 assists per game this season, second only to Russell Westbrook who averaged 10.7 per game. It’s a case of staying team orientated, Lowry can’t afford to give up the gameplan in search of putting points on the board.

This Raptors team is far superior to any Raptors team that has graced the court in the past, it’s a team besieged with players who can score. Namely, Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard, who are the teams two best scoring options on most nights. If one, or both of them, is having a strong performance then it’s easy: feed the hot hand.

Lowry has the exceptional ability to find players all over the court, whether he’s pushing the ball in transition or in the pick-and-roll, he’ll impact the game. Sometimes you just need to concentrate on what you are good at. The pieces will fall into place, there’s still time.