Raptors need to find ways to survive minutes without Kyle Lowry on the court

Title: Raptors need to find ways to survive minutes without Kyle Lowry on the court
Date: December 30, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I broke down the Raptors’ immense struggles whenever Kyle Lowry takes a breather in their 0-3 start.

The first three games of the 2020-21 season are hardly what Toronto Raptors fans are used to. For years, the Raptors have been one of the league’s pluckiest teams at fighting from underneath, winning a league-best 60 games in which they trailed by double-digits over the last four seasons.

At the heart of that has usually been Kyle Lowry. We’ve written some version of this story a lot: Lowry, whatever his individual stat line, is usually the driver of team-level performance. For a long time, he was the one who established the floor, helping guide bench-heavy units to respectability to not just hold serve but advance leads created by the starters. Over time, the specifics have shifted as DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam have necessitated. The outcome rarely has, with Lowry still ranking among the most impactful players in basketball using multi-year advanced metrics.

That has not changed in the Raptors’ 0-3 start. The Raptors are outscoring opponents by 6.4 points per-100 possessions with Lowry on the court, winning his 111 minutes by 14. What has changed is that Lowry’s impact-driving performances have not been helping the Raptors make wild comebacks or establishing a foundational floor on which his latest co-star can execute a ceiling.

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