Kyle Lowry is not taking the Toronto Raptors’ second-round sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers very well.
Sure, his team won a franchise-record 59 games during the regular season. And yes, they snagged the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed. But he views the entire campaign as pointless in the aftermath of their third straight unsuccessful run-in with Cleveland, per ESPN.com:
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry didn’t mince words on his disappointment Tuesday when asked about Toronto’s early playoff exit at the hands of the Cavaliers, calling it a “wasted year” in spite of the team’s franchise-record 59 wins.
“We felt like we could possibly make the NBA Finals,” Lowry said. “That was our goal.” . . .
“To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Lowry told reporters. “We’ve continuously failed against the team that made the Finals the last three years.”
On the one hand, this isn’t how you want your best player feeling.
On the other hand, it kind of is.
Lowry’s disappointment implies immense expectations. And lofty ambitions suggest supreme levels of talent and opportunity. The Raptors have both. And so, they have right, after three consecutive postseason beatdowns by LeBron James, to view their ceiling in NBA Finals-or-bust terms.
Granted, this may not say much about their immediate future. Heads will roll if their loss to Cleveland is more so a fundamental underachievement than another notch under LeBron’s belt. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan could be shopped on the trade market. Head coach Dwane Casey could be fired. Hell, with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers surging into the future, the Raptors could tear this whole thing down and start anew, in an attempt to build something that doesn’t need to battle against or outlast LeBron’s window.
But maybe, just maybe, the they will consider running it back. There’s no shame in that. LeBron is LeBron, and while the Raptors should have certainly done more than fold in four games, it’s tough to declare their entire season a failure just because they couldn’t beat the one player no one else in the East has beaten these past eight years.