Photo credit: @Raptors on Twitter
Calling the Toronto Raptors last three games an adventure would be an understatement.
In the span of a week, we witnessed a new franchise record for points in a game by Fred VanVleet (54), a bizarre but satisfying win over the star-studded the Brooklyn Nets, and a new career-high from Chris Boucher (29 points).
The Raptors went 2-1 over that stretch, dropping Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks on the back end of a back-to-back. Prior to their loss against the Hawks, the Raptors were tied with a few teams for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, now they are on the outside looking in sitting at ninth in the East.
So now that the Raptors are back in playoff contention, it’s time to bring out the Toronto All-Star picks. Pascal Siakam has played a lot better as of late scoring 30+ points in three of his last five games and VanVleet continues to shoulder the scoring load while also bringing great intensity on defense.
But this week’s player of the week is truly the team’s heart and soul.
Don’t Poke the Bear!
Kyle Lowry had an incredible game against the Nets, hitting timely threes, leaving his blood on the floor, and most importantly making everyone around him better. The 123-117 win in Brooklyn will go down as one of the season highlights for the Raptors no matter what else happens this year.
I know what you’re thinking, “Max, during a week where we saw career nights from Boucher, VanVleet, and Siakam put up 33 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists, how is Lowry the Raptor of the Week!?”
Well, it’s the leadership, plain and simple.
What Lowry does on a nightly basis goes beyond the stat sheet (even though he had great stats this week as well). On a night where VanVleet set a franchise record, Lowry still posted a 14 point, ten rebound and ten assist triple-double. Lowry’s post-game speech for VanVleet after the team celebrated in the locker room was a special moment, calling Fred his ‘little brother”.
Lowry has the ability to shoulder the scoring load for stretches of a game, but his greatest strength is lifting his teammates’ game as well. Key bench players like Boucher and DeAndre’ Bembry have found a good rhythm as of late and it’s been Lowry setting them up for highlight plays time and again.
The schedule gets a little easier for the Raptors this week with matchups against the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Look for Lowry to continue to get his teammates involved, lead the Raps to more great team wins, and maybe even strengthen his case for a seventh consecutive All-Star appearance.