The Toronto Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry will now miss the rest of the regular season and will undergo surgery to remove loose bodies in his right wrist.
The Raptors have said that the aim is Lowry returns in time for the Playoffs, where if they held the fourth seed the Raptors would need to play the defending champions, Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. However, there is a chance that Lowry returns sooner and plays during the end of the regular season, according to leading NBA news breaker Adrian Wojnarowski.
Lowry sustained the injury in the last game before the All-Star break, In the Raptors 90-85 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Despite being injured Lowry still competed in both the JBL Three-Point Contest and the All-Star game.
The is a huge blow for not only the Toronto Raptors playoff chances but also Lowry himself. Prior to the All-Star break, Lowry was playing the best basketball of his career. Lowry was scoring 22.8 points per game, shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from beyond the arc and 51.2 percent from inside the arc. Lowry was also making 3.3 three-pointers per game. All of these stats are career highs for the All-Star point guard.
Whilst many may argue that the Raptors leading scorer DeMar DeRozan who is averaging 27.7 points per game is the Raptors best players the stats tell another story. When Kyle Lowry is on the floor the Raptors outscore their opponents by an incredible 8.1 points per 100 possessions. When Lowry is not on the floor the Raptors get outscored by 3.5 points per 100 possessions.
According to the ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus rankings, Lowry is the second-best point guard in the league. Rating ahead of both Russell Westbrook who is averaging a triple-double for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the reigning two-time league MVP in Stephen Curry.
The Toronto Raptors have won all three games without Lowry, however, don’t expect that to continue. The Raptors beat the Celtics 107-97 at home as DeMar DeRozan shot 15-28 from the field and went a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line on his way to 43 points. The Raptors had a battle on their hands at Madison Square Garden against the struggling New York Knicks before DeMar DeRozan scored two of his 37 points at the buzzer to record a 92-91 victory.
The Raptors are currently sitting with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Washington Wizards for the third seed whilst being three games back of the Celtics for the second seed and two and a half games clear of the Atlanta Hawks who sit at the fifth seed.
So what does this mean for the Toronto Raptors? Prior to this Lowry news, the Raptors sole focus would have been to at least grab the third seed, this means they wouldn’t face the Cleveland Cavaliers until the Eastern Conference Finals. Any chance they had of doing that is now out the window without Lowry.
However, things aren’t so dire for the Raptors. Of their remaining 22 games, 10 are at home and 13 are against teams with a losing record. They have the fourth easiest remaining schedule according to NBA.com.
The next week is the biggest of the season for DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors. First on the agenda is back-to-back games against the Washington Wizards, who the Raptors are tied with for the third seed in the East. Once the Raptors are finished in D.C. they have to road games against fringe teams in the Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans. The Raptors then round out their week with a road game in Atlanta against the Hawks who trail them in the standings by just two and a half games for the fourth seed.
The Toronto Raptors made two terrific moves at the trade deadline, acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic and P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns. Although Serge Ibaka can score the ball, these moves were made primarily from a defensive standpoint. In the early days, these guys look rock solid and can help the likes of DeMar DeRozan and Corey Joseph at least tread water and hold down home court advantage until the return of Lowry.