What was once out of character appears to be the new normal for the Toronto Raptors and their superstar Kyle Lowry
No one reminded Kyle Lowry that he and the Toronto Raptors are supposed to stumble out of the gate. The Raptors have a disappointing history of Game Ones, but on Monday afternoon, Toronto didn’t revert back to their old ways. Instead, they showed the NBA that they’re a team to be feared.
The team’s starting point guard has been just as haunted by opening games as the franchise. That dark cloud no longer looms over Lowry’s head.
Last season, in the opening game of the opening round, Lowry didn’t even register a single point. His performance in that game against the Orlando Magic was dissected and he was widely blamed for the loss. Sadly, dropping that game fits perfectly with the Raptors’ playoffs history. After that loss, the franchise had only won one first-round Game One in eleven tries.
In Orlando for some bubble ball, Lowry appears to have shed the mental block he appeared to play with in the past. Winning a title is likely an incredible confidence booster. In 2019, he struggled to shoot the ball well in Game One. This year, in just the opening quarter, Lowry had eight points in nine minutes.
By halftime, with his squad in the lead by 22 points, Lowry had already collected 14 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Nine of his points have come off made three-pointers. And if that isn’t an impressive enough starting stat line, Lowry also drew three charges. The only Raptors player with more points at the break was Fred Van Vleet who was shooting the lights out with 16 points of his own.
VanVleet picked up where he left off during last year’s playoffs. Like Lowry, he too had a slow start before finding a new gear last year. In the first 15 games of the 2019 postseason, VanVleet averaged four points per game with a field goal percentage of 25.6 and a three-point shooting percentage of 19.5. Over the final nine games of the championship run, Steady Freddy averaged 14.7 points and had a field goal percentage of 51.1 and a three-point shooting percentage of 52.6.
In Monday’s game, VanVleet looked unstoppable. He registered a postseason career-best 30 points, had a postseason career most threes with eight, and had his first playoffs double-double. He also had a field goal percentage of 73.3 and shot 80 percent from beyond the arc.
The Toronto Raptors and their tremendous backcourt shouldn’t just be pleased with their scoring because they also made things difficult for the Brooklyn Nets by playing aggressive defense. The Nets offensive strategy appeared to have them avoid setting up in the halfcourt and instead try and score before Toronto could set up their defense. It worked well enough to allow Brooklyn to claw back into the game in the third quarter.
The Dinos will make adjustments and try and to improve on an excellent game. The team will look to continue rolling along when they play in Game Two on Wednesday.