Raptors complete the sweep but Lowry injury has everyone a little nervous — Toronto Sun

The first round is in the rearview mirror now for the Raptors, but the path ahead potentially got a little tougher. The Raptors did the expected and handled the undermanned Nets in quick fashion for the first sweep in franchise history, but nine minutes into the Game 4 knockout punch, a 150-122 win, the Raptors’ […]

Raptors complete the sweep but Lowry injury has everyone a little nervous — Toronto Sun

Raptors complete the sweep but Lowry injury has everyone a little nervous

Author of the article:Mike GanterPublishing date:Aug 24, 2020  •  Last Updated 11 hours ago  •  4 minute read

Raptors guard Norman Powell dunks against Jarrett Allen of the Nets during the second half in Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. KIM KLEMENT / POOL / Getty Images

The first round is in the rearview mirror now for the Raptors, but the path ahead potentially got a little tougher.

The Raptors did the expected and handled the undermanned Nets in quick fashion for the first sweep in franchise history, but nine minutes into the Game 4 knockout punch, a 150-122 win, the Raptors’ worst fears may have been realized.

Kyle Lowry, on the move, stepped on Chris Chiozza’s foot and turned his left ankle just as he reached the Nets three-point line. Lowry, as is his custom, was up to argue the lack of a foul call on the play but did so limping. He stayed in the game for the next possession but at the first stoppage jogged, again limping, directly to the locker room, not to be seen again.

Without imaging equipment at the arena in Orlando, Lowry was taken off-site (but still in the bubble) to have the ankle looked at. He is scheduled to have an MRI on the arch of his left foot on Monday.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry battles for the ball against Jarrett Allen of the Nets during the first half in Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. KIM KLEMENT / POOL/Getty Images

Head coach Nick Nurse knows exactly what losing Lowry, going into a series with Boston, will mean.

“I won’t be very comfortable without Kyle out there, I will say that. He’s certainly a big engine for us,” Nurse said. “But I would say, I think that we play a system or a style where lots of guys are involved and it’s not like, yeah, we’re going to miss all those great, great things Kyle does if he doesn’t play, but somebody else has got to take shots and play defence and play tough and do the things that he does to make up for it. Or we do it by committee, that’s probably a better way.”

But Nurse was not ready to concede anything to the injury gods just yet.

“It would hurt us a lot,” Nurse said. “All I can say is, you guys know how big a cog he is to this whole thing. He’s our most experienced, toughest leader we got. I don’t want to speculate and answer a million questions on whether he’s playing or not until we know whether he’s playing or not and we’ve got a few days for that.

“But I would imagine this: It’s going to be a hell of an injury to keep him off the floor. It’s not going to be a little thing. He’s going to try to figure it out. He played, I don’t know how many, 14 or 16 straight playoff games last year with a totally messed up left thumb, running through the Finals last year. It’s going to take something pretty serious to keep him out.”

Lowry’s absence for the bulk of Game 4 further complicated things for the Raptors who were already making do without Fred VanVleet, who picked up three quick fouls in the first seven minutes and would not return to the game until the third quarter.
Throw in some early foul trouble for reserve guards Norm Powell and Terence Davis and one might think the Raptors were in a little trouble.

But if this team has shown one consistent trait this year, it is being able to absorb a blow that might dismantle others and find a way to win. Sunday night that trait was in full view.

Powell and Serge Ibaka came off the bench and helped the Raptors put up 77 in that first half, which is a franchise record for a playoff game.

“Breakin’ records.”

First postseason series sweep ☑️ pic.twitter.com/DlKoLZ9Ryd— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 24, 2020

Powell finished with a playoff-best 29 points in 24 minutes on 9-of-14 shooting. Right with him was Ibaka, who 27 points and a team-best 15 rebounds in just 20 minutes.
VanVleet returned to the floor to start the second half but wound up playing just 19 minutes.

Playing without key men is nothing new to the Raptors. They’ve done it all season with everyone on the team missing time at some point due to injury with the exception of OG Anunoby and Davis.

“One thing about us, we know we have a lot of guys who can play,” Ibaka said after the game. “We don’t really worry about who’s going to score 30 or 40 every night. We are not that type of team where one guy is going to score 30 or 40. So we just come and try to play basketball: Move the ball, whoever’s hot, we’re going to go with him, and that’s why we are always there, even when we have guys down.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/AhS3CnGZn2k?embed_config={%27relatedChannels%27:%20[],%27autonav%27:true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1

As good as Powell and Ibaka were, the Raptors bench as a whole deserved a ton of credit in this one. It scored 100 points with contributions and scoring from all eight reserves that took the floor — a Raptors and an NBA record.

The old playoff mark was 86 set by Dallas. The all-time mark for bench points from a team in a game was set by Golden State with 94 in 1977.

The Raptors win sets up the much-anticipated second-round matchup with the Boston Celtics who themselves completed the sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the day. The two Atlantic-division foes have never met in the playoffs.

The Celtics lost guard Gordon Hayward with an ankle injury of his own earlier in the playoff round but they still boast a tough lineup with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and now likely Marcus Smart joining the starting five with Hayward out.

Already this season the two teams have played four highly entertaining games with the Celtics winning three including one since the re-start.

RAPTORS-CELTICS SCHEDULE (Best-of-seven series)

Game 1 – Thursday, August 27

Game 2 – Saturday, August 29

Game 3 – Monday, August 31

Game 4 – Wednesday, September 2

Game 5* – Friday, September 4

Game 6* – Sunday, September 6

Game 7* – Tuesday, September 8

mganter@postmedia.com

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