Image Credit: Troy Taormina /CBS
The NBA Bubble burst last night. Not in a bad way though. For the very first time in these playoffs, everything seemed real. The energy, the skillful execution, the defensive intensity was at 100. The competition was elite.
The Celtics are seeking a third conference final in four years. They were up 3-2 in the series entering the game and looking to close out the defending champs. Toronto is gunning for respect, believe it or not, having won the NBA championship last season with Kawhi Leonard running the show. But guys like Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry hit plenty of big shots in that 2019 Finals win over a depleted Golden State squad to earn more respect than they were granted.
In fact, Lowry was the one who set the tone in the Game 6 closeout win. The Shadow League didn’t forget.
the maligned Kyle Lowery delivered the playoff quarter of his career with 15 points going 4-of-4 from three-point range… and finishing the first half with 21 points.
Somewhere along the way, a narrative developed that Lowry was a poor playoff performer, a couple of bad games and media is always looking for someone to blame. Ryan Hollins went as far as to call Lowry “just a regular player,” who has risen to success based on sheer will and not talent.
Kind of disrespectful, then again, that’s been the attitude towards Toronto, a squad that definitely entered the Bubble with a chip on its shoulder as nobody picked the Raptors to emerge out of the Eastern Conference.
Lowry delivered another Game 6 gem last night. It came right on time to help Toronto stave off elimination. Regardless of what happens in Game 7, Lowry’s 33 point-performance and game-winning shot in double OT was exhilarating stuff. The stuff legends are made of.
— NBA (@NBA) September 10, 2020
People tend to underestimate championship pedigree. Even after Lowry proved himself to be a point guard for an NBA title-winner, there were those self-proclaimed basketball aficionados who belittled his game and impact and position among the elite guards in the game.
He does it all. Defensively, offensively. He’s a leader and a great locker room presence and person. He ain’t a great shooter but he’s an official Junk Yard DOG on the court.
Last night, he reminded everyone why he is a six-time All-Star in a league rich with backcourt savants. Why he wears that championship ring. Why Kawhi Leonard needed him to win that title in 2019.
He’s Big East bred, went to Villanova, so he possesses a mental toughness that is consistent with players from the original Big East conference.
Last night’s buzzer-beater was another clutch playoff bucket that Lowry can add to his growing list of game-winners and moment-seizing excellence. If you’re going to tell the story of Kyle Lowry, then tell the whole story.
There’s something to be said for players who don’t shrink in the big moment. So I’m saying something about one of the most underrated guards to ever do it.