Fresh off putting the finishing touches on the franchise’s first-ever playoff series sweep, the Toronto Raptors are hoping the straw that stirs their drink won’t be watching the team’s second-round series opener against the Boston Celtics.
Toronto demolished the undermanned Brooklyn Nets 150-122 Sunday night to win the series in four straight games and advance to Round 2 of the NBA playoffs, but they lost veteran point guard Kyle Lowry to a left ankle injury in the process.
Lowry was injured in the first quarter when he turned his ankle after inadvertently stepping on the foot of Brooklyn’s Chris Chiozza. He has since been diagnosed with an ankle sprain after undergoing an MRI and there is no timetable for his return.
The 34-year-old Lowry, the heart and soul of the Raptors, crumpled to the floor in pain and the hearts of millions of fans sank into their stomachs at the thought of potentially losing him for an extended period of time.
The Philadelphia native is not a top point producer in the league, or even on his team, for that matter, but he brings so much to the court.
Lowry has an uncanny knack for taking charges, he plays a mean defence that becomes contagious throughout the team, and even when he’s not shooting well, Lowry always has the guts to take a big shot when the chips are down.
In short, the Raptors are hoping like heck that their leader on and off the court is healthy enough to play in Game 1 against Boston on Thursday night.
As easy as the Brooklyn series was, and it was (Toronto beat the Nets by an average of 20.5 points per game), the Raptors will be facing a much more dangerous team in the Celtics.
Despite losing Gordon Hayward to an injury that will sideline him for the entire series, Boston boasts a talented roster highlighted by the likes of Jason Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown.
Toronto has a deep team, as shown by their NBA-record 100 points from the bench in Sunday’s win over Brooklyn, but not having Lowry in the lineup will be a psychological hurdle the Raptors will have to overcome.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.