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Playoff mode activated.. unfortunately

Published by Yoshi on 21st April - 18:05 (CET)
After a long regular season the Playoffs are finally upon us, folks, and with them we are seeing the intensity of the game turned up, the stakes being raised by the day and the players on the 16 remaining teams putting in an extra gear for the post-season. Some players don't seem to be used to driving a stick, however, and seem to be switching to reverse instead of a higher gear for the postseason.

Appearing as certain as LeBron James killing the first round - he currently has 20 straight wins in first round - is the yearly dreadful shooting performance by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and 2017 is not shaping up to be the year that this trend is reversed.

Through three games in the 2017 Playoffs, Lowry is shooting 12-33 (.364) from the floor and even worse from downtown with 4-16 (.250). His partner-in-misery, DeRozan, has been even more dreadful, making only twelve shots on 33 attempts (.340) and 0-5 from distance. The Raptors' team success reflects that of their stars as they have fallen 1-2 to a motivated, young Milwaukee Bucks team.

Turning it down a notch in the Playoffs is nothing new for these two, unfortunately, as they have made it a regularly occurring theme to drop their percentages when it matters the most. Kyle Lowry's career playoff FG% stands at .382 with only a single postseason of shooting better than .400; a .404 performance through seven games in 2014. DeMar again follows suit as his career playoff shooting average is at .389 with his best outing coming in the 2015 playoffs at .400 - though this was in only four games as the Raptors were swept by the Washington Wizards.

Lowry and DeRozan are proven superstars in this league with multiple All Star nods, including a start for DeMar and a bench nod by the coaches for Kyle this year in New Orleans, so what is the problem here?

Well, for starters you have to take a look at the Toronto Raptors offense. They were dead last in the regular season this year with only 18.5 assists per game. Even the Phoenix Suns (19.6) and Los Angeles Lakers (20.9) were better at sharing the rock. This speaks volumes of how focused the Raptors' offense is on their two All Stars creating for themselves as they both registered career highs in points per game this year. In the regular season this kind of offense clearly can fly, as the Raptors have been one of the top four seeds in the East every year since '13-'14, but when game plans are zeroed in and defensive intensity is turned up in the Playoffs, an offense as stagnant as Toronto's leads to a whole lot of terrible shots for their two scorers.

Furthermore the postseason struggles must have become a psychological issue for the two stars at this point as they have to talk about "shooting slumps" on a yearly basis while breaking records in terrible shooting as Lowry did last year by having the most playoff games in a row of shooting under .400 in the shot clock era. These guys notice that their shooting is historically bad, and they can't be happy about it.

Staring yet another early elimination in the eyes this year while dragging down their already miserable playoff shooting percentages has to be painful, and one can only hope that the duo manages to pull themselves out of this negative spiral and show up before it is too late.

One who isn't me, that is, because I want more of Giannis and Thon in these Playoffs! Fear the Deer, Raptors!

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