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NBA 2018-19: What is affecting Kyle Lowry's form?

Jason Mills
ANALYST
Feature
Published 10 Dec 2018, 19:30 IST
10 Dec 2018, 19:30 IST

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks
Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks

The Toronto Raptors have hit their second rough patch, of games, this season. After a 6-0 start, the Raptors lost one game, then won six more times. The Raptors then lost three consecutive games to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Detroit Pistons, who are led, by Raptors former head coach Dwane Casey, and the Boston Celtics. 

That hiccup was followed, by an eight game winning streak. Now, in the middle of a stretch of games, mostly against potential playoff quality teams, the Raptors have lost three out their last four games. 

A few flaws have started to develop, in the Raptors game. The second unit, that was so dominant, for the Raptors success, last season, has been somewhat inconsistent, on the offensive side, of the ball.

Fred Van Vleet’s three-point shooting is not, as consistent, as it was, last year and three point shooting specialist C.J. Miles has been ineffective. O.G. Anunoby has been up and down. After he recorded 15 points against Washington, on November 23rd, 2018, he has only recorded 37 points in 8 games since.

During the Raptors last six games, in which the Raptors have won three and lost three, they have given up a grand total of 79 offensive rebounds, to their opponents. This includes 17 to the Golden State Warriors, 15 to the Denver Nuggets and !6 to the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors beat Golden State out of those three contests.  

Considering how dominant the Raptors defense can be, it becomes extremely difficult to distance yourself from opponents, that you constantly give second and third scoring chances to. 

Perhaps most troubling is what is or isn’t happening with Kyle Lowry. Lowry is, as important, if not more so, than Kawhi Leonard to the success, this season, of the Toronto Raptors. He has been a huge x-factor in any success the Raptors have had the last five seasons. He is important, on both sides, of the ball. 

He takes charges, he is a sound perimeter defender, he runs the Raptors offensive and is usually a threat from three-point range. Along, with DeMar DeRozan, the last five seasons, and now, with Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors go, as Lowry goes. At the moment, things are not going well, for the Raptors all-star, and here is why.

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks
Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks
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Kyle Lowry’s three-point shot has gone missing

Kyle Lowry has been a good three point shooter, in his time, with the Toronto Raptors. In his last three seasons, he has shot 38.8%, 41.2% and 39.9% from behind the arc. 

This season Lowry's long-range shot is not working, at its usual rate. Lowry is shooting just 32.4% from behind the arc this season. In Lowry’s last five games, he has made 5/32 three-point field goal attempts. 

 He has tallied just 25 points, in that same stretch, for an average, of 5 points per game. Considering how much the Raptors rely on Kyle Lowry to score, his numbers are way down. Lowry's last 5 games do not measure up, with his early season work 

This season Lowry is actually averaging 13.7 points per game. If Lowry’s slump continues, the Toronto Raptors will struggle to win games.  

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics
Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics

Assist totals starting to slip

Kyle Lowry has been averaging a double-double this season.   If he were to maintain this pace, it would be the first double-double, (in points and assists), of his career. 

Along with his 13.7 points per game average, Lowry is also averaging 10 assists per game, as well.  The 10 assists per game, if he continues at this pace, is the highest average of his career, in this category. 

However, in his last five games, Lowry’s assist numbers are starting to drop off, along with his long-range shooting. In those last five games, Lowry has 45 assists, for an average, of 9 per game. Its not a dramatic drop off, but, the Raptors rely heavily, on Kyle Lowry, to get their offense running.  

Considering starters, like Leonard and Ibaka, have been scoring well, lately, the issue isn’t necessarily other starters not scoring. The Raptors have scored over 100 points or better in nine of their last 10 games.

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics
Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics

Kyle Lowry may be hurt

It is quite possible that Kyle Lowry is suffering from an undisclosed injury. He was a late scratch before the Raptors game against the Cavaliers, on Saturday December 1st, 2018, due to a sore back. In the 2 games prior, to the victory over the Golden State Warriors, Lowry produced 38 points and 16 assists.  

Lowry averaging 34.1 minutes per game played 41 minutes against the Warriors on November 29th, 2018. Its seems evident he hurt himself during or after the Warriors game or even aggravated an injury he’s been trying to play through.  In the four games he has played since November 29th, 2018, Lowry has averaged 34 minutes a game.

On the surface, it would seem he is healthy. However, a close look, at the box scores will reveal, during this slump, for Kyle Lowry, that many, of his field goal attempts, are three-pointers. When you examine his play, in games lately, he has not been driving to the basket off of the dribble very much. This could be an indicator that Kyle Lowry is not 100% healthy.  

In any event, whatever is bothering Kyle Lowry, the Raptors hope it is cleared up soon. They need his game management skills and he can only provide, that, if he is healthy. Further, with Fred Van Vleet, also struggling, at the point guard spot, Lowry’s struggles become magnified. 

The Raptors, after cruising, through the first quarter, of the season, maybe addressing their first bout, of adversity. Their ability to handle it and remain focused gets tested again, on Tuesday night, against the Los Angeles Clippers.




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Modified 20 Dec 2019, 20:19 IST
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