With Kyle Lowry still uncertain if he’ll be ready for Game 1 against the Celtics, the Toronto Raptors might have to look at Norman Powell.
The Toronto Raptors will be looking to square off their series against the Boston Celtics, but it might be without their All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is listed as questionable for Game 1 and if he does indeed miss Game 1, Norman Powell is the most likely player taking his spot.
This will be a very important game for the Toronto Raptors to take, and they can’t afford to lose any games even with Lowry out, especially against a team they struggled so mightily during the season — they lost the season series 3-1 and the Celtics are the only team to beat them in the bubble.
Norman Powell, who has improved even further from last year might be looking for his first playoff start in three years. Against the Brooklyn Nets, Powell averaged 17.5 points per game on a ridiculous 72.1 effective field goal rate.
Obviously those numbers aren’t sustainable, and the Brooklyn Nets were one of the worst defensive teams in the bubble. However, seeing Powell’s numbers going up drastically is always an encouraging sign, and hopefully something he can carry on against the Boston Celtics.
Toronto Raptors: Numbers with Powell in starting lineup
During the season, whenever Lowry was out it would be Fred VanVleet who would cover point guard duties while Norman Powell is inserted in the starting lineup as the shooting guard. The starting lineup of VanVleet-Powell-Anunoby-Siakam-Gasol has surprisingly posted the best differential out of all Raptors lineups with over 100 possesions.
Together they posted 114.7 points per possession — 3.3 more points than regular starting lineup — while only allowing 98.5 points per 100 possesions. Making for a plus/minus differential of +16.2 which is better than the regular starting lineup by 3.1 (stats per Cleaning The Glass).
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Powell is a better player to have than Lowry in the starting lineup. Powell is more of a pure scorer and is a walking bucket but you can only count on one hand the value and impact Lowry brings to an NBA team.
All of this means is that having Powell in place of Lowry doesn’t look all that bad if you’re looking at the numbers and that a Game 1 win without Lowry seems plausible, especially with a player of Powell’s caliber. Not to mention the amount of experience the Toronto Raptors have playing short-handed this season.
We’ll all be hoping that Lowry is fit and ready to go for Game 1 against the Boston Celtics and if not he should take his time. The last thing the Raptors need is for Lowry to re-aggravate that ankle injury even further. Although Powell as a starter does hurt their depth, if there is one team to bet on when shorthanded, it is the Toronto Raptors.