On a night when Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns started throwing haymakers and Stephen Curry broke his hand and Houston and Washington played a 159-158 regulation time game and the mighty TFCs came from a goal down to save a penalty and win another Eastern Conference championship, a rather humdrum Raptors win over Detroit was hard to get all charged up about.
But that’s a bit of what we do around here so we’ll offer this up as a final look at a 125-113 win that was hardly memorable.
It was another sublime performance for Kyle Lowry, 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds, but you wonder if it’s a bit too much.
In part because Nick Nurse likes what he gets when Lowry’s on the court with Fred VanVleet and in part because there really is no third point guard option at the moment, he played about 38 more minutes last night.
That’s too many, as even Nurse admitted.
“They’re a little high for me, a little high. I’d like to trim them, excited that I trimmed them from 40 to 37 tonight, working on it, if I can trim a couple more minutes here and there, we’ll be in the ballpark.
“He likes to play, which we know. Sometimes we got to control that just a little bit better from our standpoint down the road. Certainly he’s got off to a good start and he’s certainly playing great. So we’ll try to trim a little bit off that as we get a little more comfortable.”
Lowry’s averaging 39 minutes a night – the heaviest load of his career — and even if it’s only five games into the season, that’s simply not sustainable.
Maybe Pat McCaw morphs into that third guard or maybe Nick goes away from so much Lowry-VanVleet but as the games pile up, something’s got to be done ot cut that back to something close to 33 or 34 a night. Even that’s a stretch.
A botched plan
The Raptors do love their two-for-ones at the ends of quarters, it’s why you see them launch an early shot clock attempt with, say, about 33 seconds left; it gets them the last shot.
Lowry’s pretty effective at it and I don’t know the exact numbers but they do and since they keep doing it, those stats must show that it makes sense.
Last night, it didn’t.
At the end of the first half they had a perfect opportunity to pull one off but got a brutal VanVleet miss with about 33 seconds left, gave up a Luke Kennard jumper with about 25 seconds remaining and then committed a 24-second violation on the last possession of the half.
That was ugly.
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Put it to rest
It was nice to see Dwane Casey and catch up at shootaround (Laura did this story but maybe that story is done now?
And once we get Kawhi and Danny and Jonas back through town and DeMar makes his first post-championship appearance, I think all the emotional nights will be taken care for the season.
As expected, everyone took the high road when talking about the night and what it meant to everyone – plaudits and respect all around – but Kyle was, for him, particularly loquacious, gracious and chatty about seeing his old coach.
“I didn’t talk to him. But we text still and he’s a big part of my growth and my career. Case is still one of my favourite coaches that I’ve had, he’s one of the best gentlemen, best men in the world, he’s always been a supporter of me and I’ve always been a supporter of him. We grew together and he’s always going to be real special to me, no matter where he is or what part of life we’re both in.”
For Kyle, that’s gold and from the heart and was nice.
All right, that’s all I’ve got on that one and there’s the debut of Nothing But Net to get done this morning so it’s time to go.
But two reminders:
Put your thinking caps on and come up with some probing questions for the mailbag that you can send along to email@example.com any time you want today.
And, please, be extra vigilant and cautious later on this afternoon/evening because there will be tiny ghouls and goblins among us.