For at least one playoff night, Kyle Lowry was absolutely spectacular. If Kawhi Leonard was Batman, sent to save the Raptors from death by deer stampede, Lowry was Robin, providing cover fire along the way.
Toronto’s All-Star point guard scored 30 points in Game 1, one poetic three-pointer after another. He shot 7-of-9 from downtown in total. It was all Leonard, Nick Nurse, Masai Ujiri, Drake, and the entire province of Canada could have asked for from their floor general in their opening Eastern Conference Finals game.
The problem? Lowry’s incredible performance will now be a footnote in history, after Milwaukee won Game 1, 108-100.
Leonard and Pascal Siakam were the only other Raptors to score in double figures. A stunning statistic: Lowry was the only Toronto player to record a field goal in the fourth quarter. Despite his brilliant game, Toronto finds itself in an 0-1 series hole.
This was the night of all nights for the Raptors to steal a game. Milwaukee had already dropped Game 1 to Boston in the East semifinals, and did not get a transcendent Giannis Antetokounmpo game or a great three-point shooting performance. Winning this one on the road would have been huge for the Raptors.
They didn’t, and not only did they lose, they lost despite Lowry having an out-of-body experience given his Game 1 history. Lowry was only averaging 9.6 points on 34 percent shooting from the field and 14 percent shooting from three in 13 Game 1s entering this series. Though he’s had other standout playoff games in his career, this performance was an outlier. And it still wasn’t enough.
The Bucks are as tough a team as there is in this league. They made the Detroit Pistons look like a G-League team, then sent a loaded Boston squad back to the drawing board after dispatching them in five games. The Raptors are talented, but they need all the help they can get dealing with Antetokounmpo. When his help is on fire, like Brook Lopez was in Game 1, Milwaukee is an incredibly difficult team to stop.
Toronto had that help in Game 1, but it was wasted. Other Raptors not named Lowry shot 31.1 percent from the field, and Lowry and Leonard alone combined for 61 of Toronto’s 100 points. The supporting cast might improve in future games, but we might not get another standout performance like this from the Raptors’ guard.
It’s just sad it happened to be in a losing effort.