He reportedly injured his wrist during Toronto’s last game before the All-Star break, meaning that he lost a week of potential recovery time if the Raptors’ medical team would have intervened.
Lowry’s stubbornness has been his greatest strength and weakness during his career. He plays the game at 100 percent at all times, no matter how meaningless the game is. He plays hurt, takes charges up 30 in the fourth and has faded come the playoffs in the past partly as a result.
On the plus side, Lowry will get some needed rest. He is currently the league leader in minutes per game at 37.7 minutes per game. The flip side to that is now the Raptors run the risk of wearing DeMar DeRozan out, as he will be asked to shoulder a much greater load.
This news is a tremendously disappointing blow for Toronto, but the outlook may not be hopeless. After the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, the Raptors don’t require as much offense as they did in the past to come away with a victory.
They now have the ability to win games on the defensive end of the floor.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the Raptors have one of the deepest point guard positions in the league. With Cory Joseph and Delon Wright, the Raptors have two guards that can take care of the ball, as well as impact the game on the defensive end of the floor.
This isn’t to say Lowry won’t be missed. The Raptors outscore their opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court. When he sits, the Raptors get outscored by 4.6 points per 100 possessions.
The Raptors have always had a “next man up” mentality, but this will be their greatest test yet. The team will need to re-dedicate itself to the defensive end of the floor and improve upon it’s 17th ranked defense.
Since the All-Star break, the team has gone 2-0 with wins over the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers. These wins will provide the Raptors with the formula for success without Lowry. A team effort around DeRozan’s offensive brilliance, with aggressiveness on defense.
They must find a way to keep winning and prevent a slide to fourth or fifth in the standings. A second-round match up against the Cavaliers would be a terrible blow for a Raptors team that’s looking to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.
The remaining schedule for the Raptors also is very favorable. They only have three games left against teams with top-ten offensive ratings.
Two come this week with their home-and-home against the Washington Wizards, the other is the last game of the season against a likely resting Cavaliers team. The Raptors also only have three remaining back-to-backs, meaning they’ll at least be rested.
Whether or not the Raptors can hold the fort remains to be seen. The East is far more competitive this season than it has been in the past. But if they can resist the urge to wear down DeRozan and keep up the intensity on defense, they have a decent shot at holding the third seed in the East.