So, the Kyle Lowry situation is a little irritating. If you’ve been offline for a few days, a recap: Lowry hurt his right (shooting) wrist against Charlotte the Wednesday before the All-Star break, woke up sore Thursday morning, and said nothing of it. He thought maybe he slept on it funny, and with eight days off upcoming, he figured it would get better on its own. At All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, he iced it regularly, then opted to participate in the 3-Point Contest and the All-Star Game. During the latter, he could be seen icing it in an enormous wrap, sending panic throughout the Toronto Raptors fanbase. A few more days off didn’t remedy the soreness, and Lowry sat out Friday’s game against Boston. At some point this weekend, he underwent diagnostic testing, and until the team says otherwise, he’s out indefinitely.
That Lowry said nothing is understandable, if a little frustrating in hindsight. It was minor, and players don’t report every bump and bruise they come up with over an 82-game season. The optics suggest he should have sat out All-Star activities, and maybe he should have, but he thought he’d be fine, and those events mean something to players. Lowry was defiant Friday that he wouldn’t change how he handled his time off, which, again, didn’t provide enough time for his balky wrist to feel better.
How this story is remembered will depend entirely on what the outlook ultimately turns out to be for Lowry. If the issue is minor and he misses but a few games, maybe it’s the additional rest is early-season workload probably dictated, anyway. If it’s more serious, requiring weeks off or surgery or anything of the like, or if it saps his shooting performance over the remainder of the season, this has the potential to be the defining story of the final third of the year. However long he’s out, the Raptors are at risk of struggling, though their point guard depth, the play of DeMar DeRozan, and their deadline additions should help stem the tide at least a little.
In either case, it seems unlikely Lowry will suit up when the Portland Trail Blazers visit on Sunday. Damian Lillard missed the earlier meeting between the teams in Portland, so both battles will have been robbed of their usual “battle of two of the best backcourts” billing. It should still be a fun one, with a pair of teams trying to shake off poor pre-deadline stretches each looking for a second win in a row to kick off the season’s stretch run.
The game tips off at 6 on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
Lowry was officially listed as questionable in the game notes, but there was no update at practice Saturday and no shootaround Sunday. Dwane Casey’s pre-game media availability was also pushed back from 4:15 to 4:45, so we won’t have n update until even later than usual. If Lowry can’t go, Cory Joseph and Delon Wright will take on the difficult task of guarding Damian Lillard, while also making sure Lillard can’t take plays off at the other end. DeMar DeRozan has a tough task opposite some decent, sizeable wing defenders in Portland’s rotation, but he should be able to carry the scoring load as he did against Boston. Defensively, C.J. McCollum poses a problem, but the Raptors can just switch wing assignments to let DeRozan focus on the offensive end.
HUGE RELIEF OF AN UPDATE: Lowry’s scans revealed nothing significant, and the team is calling him day-to-day with a sore wrist. So no bigger injury at play, and Lowry could potentially return anytime (Wednesday against Washington is probably the most realistic target). Lowry’s being treated symptomatically, and the team will likely keep us guessing until close to game time each night. Even tonight, Casey said Lowry *probably* isn’t going to play, though it would be strange if the team changed course after that.
This is a huge break for the Raptors. Losing Lowry for an extended period would have hurt in those games, quite obviously, but also would have threatened to limit the amount of time the Raptors have to develop chemistry with their new pieces and new-ish rotation. Exhale, everyone.
PG: Cory Joseph, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: DeMarre Carrol, P.J. Tucker, Bruno Caboclo
PF: Serge Ibaka, Patrick Patterson, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl
Trail Blazers updates
Al-Farouq Aminu was upgraded to probable for Sunday’s game after missing the first game out of the All-Star break with knee soreness, which has to be great news for Portland fans still hoping for a playoff push. Aminu gives Portland another big wing to throw on DeRozan when Moe Harkless hits the bench, an important consideration since they can’t really trust McCollum to take that task on. We talked more about this in the pre-game this morning.
UPDATE: Aminu will play.
PG: Damian Lillard, Shabazz Napier
SG: C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Pat Connaughton
SF: Maurice Harkless, Jake Layman
PF: Noah Vonleh,Al-Farouq Aminu, Meyers Leonard
C: Jusuf Nurkic, Ed Davis
ASSIGNED: Tim Quarterman
OUT: Festus Ezeli, Evan Turner
- The Raptors didn’t even announce that Bruno Caboclo had been assigned to Raptors 905 for last night’s game. They did, however, recall him today after he scored eight points with seven rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes. He’ll be on the bench for this one. Expect Caboclo – and perhaps Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam – to stay behind when the Raptors head to New York tomorrow, as the 905 are at home at Hershey Centre.
- C.J. Leslie was an absolute monster in that 905 game last night. I don’t think he’s on the NBA radar for this year, but it wouldn’t shock me if he left the team early to cash in for an end-of-season overseas deal.
- Speaking of the 905, read this on friend of the site, play-by-play commentator, and all-around good person Meghan McPeak.
- Also read this, from my good boy William Lou, one of his regular state-of-the-Raptors columns that are always worth a read.
- It does not appear that Isaiah Thomas will be punished further for making gun fingers at DeMarre Carroll, likely because his tiny, itty-bitty hands were too small to make out clearly on the replay, and they were further disguised by the clouds of steam from the smoldering pile of rubble the Raptors turned the Celtics into on Friday.
- The Cavaliers are reportedly adding Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut via the buyout market. Yes, the Cavs are annoying in that regard, getting their pick of the pre-March 1 litter for the end of their roster. It’s hard to get too mad, though. It is what it is, the Raptors did something similar last year (albeit to a much lower-impact degree), and the Raptors made a pair of deadline acquisitions that take them out of the buyout market this year.
- Jose Calderon might join the Warriors, which makes me all kinds of happy. Not only is our man finally getting to play for a contender, but he’s going to play for one that won’t put him opposite the Raptors…until the finals.
- If you don’t think I’m self-retweeting this every time P.J. Tucker does something fun, you don’t know me well yet:
/extremely iceland voice
“2 2nds? Well worth it.”
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) February 25, 2017
The Raptors are 5.5-point favorites with a 209.5 over-under. The line may seem small given the respective records and Toronto’s win in Portland, but the status of Lowry obviously looms large over this one. It will be interesting to see if the line moves with a Lowry update, or if it’s already been priced in (and in what direction).
UPDATE: The Lowry news dropped the line to Raptors -5. It seems the market had priced in his absence for the most part. The over-under dropped to 208.5, too.