Lowry savours Raptors’ win over Bucks but ‘not satisfied’ yet

The Toronto Raptors defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in six games to advance to the NBA finals against the Golden State Warriors.

TORONTO – Approximately two hours and 30 minutes before the Toronto Raptors tipped off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday you knew something special was brewing in the air.

Exiting Union Station at this time, a severe thunderstorm advisory was just getting going but that did nothing to dampen the line of Raptors fans waiting to get into Jurassic Park that was stretching from University Avenue on Front Street at Bay Street.

Men and women, young and old all decked out in Raptors gear as simple as a T-shirt with the word "RAPTORS" emblazoned on it to the more hardcore with quite a few busting out old Vince Carter throwback jerseys.

Even when the storm really picked up and threatened to keep people out, with a Toronto Police Service advisory that temporarily shut down the Maple Leaf Square tailgate party, it still didn’t matter.

"We knew it was going to rain, but it doesn’t matter, man," said Prabhjot, a Brampton man wearing a black and red No. 7 Kyle Lowry Raptors jersey. "This is a historic moment. We can’t miss this. It doesn’t matter. Rain or sunshine or thunder. It doesn’t matter."

Yes, Game 6 of Toronto’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Milwaukee Bucks wasn’t just another playoff game. And like Prabhjot alluded to, history was on the line as a Toronto victory would mean the Raptors would book a ticket to the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Even stranger yet is that a fanbase that more often than not has viewed the glass half-empty over the club’s 24 years of existence was actually confident things would all go their way — finally.

And it did. 100-94. Raptors win.

Words that mean more to the player Prabhjot was proudly representing than anyone else.

Lowry has been on this ride longer than any other current Raptor and has gone through more than his fair share of post-season heartache.

Now, at last, he’s been rewarded.

"It’s taken a long time to get here in my career, 13 years, seven years here," Lowry said after the game. "For me, I’m going to savour the moment, but I’m not satisfied. Our goal is to win the NBA championship."

Soak it in Kyle, you deserve it.

Opinion, analysis, interviews and debate with Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis.

For years Lowry has had the unfair moniker cast on him as a so-called playoff choker, a title that not even the most jaded Raptors fan could even consider anymore.

Not after his series against the Bucks.

With averages of 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 50.7 per cent shooting from the field, along with 46.5 per cent from the deep, Lowry brought the heat in the most important games he’s played in his life. But he, perhaps, saved his best stuff for last.

With 6:51 to play, Lowry stopped a Bucks semi-transition play right in its tracks when he swiped at the loose handle of Khris Middleton, stole the ball clean, went down the length of the floor and found a trailing Kawhi Leonard for a monster left-handed jam that will be remembered by Raptors fans forever.

This capped off a momentum-shifting 26-3 Raptors run that spiritually punched the team’s ticket to the Finals.

"We kind of were on a run, and why not feed the big dog," Lowry said of the play. "Let the big dog eat."

Leonard’s impact on this series has been nearly immeasurable and it’s logical that Lowry would want to find him in that situation, knowing what it would do to amp up the crowd, and it’s because of this that Lowry should be celebrated as much as any other Raptor on the team in achieving this tremendous accomplishment.

"His natural instincts are to be a leader out there, and he shows it," said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. "He does it with his IQ and his great knowledge of the game. He shows it with tremendous toughness as well. … He’s just going to fight to win. He’s a hell of a competitor, and that rubs off on guys."

And if you’re a Raptors fan from Day 1 or are just jumping onto the bandwagon in time for the Finals, seeing what Lowry does out there nightly should rub off on you, too.

It’s been quite the road for Lowry in Toronto. From nearly getting traded from the Raptors, to becoming an all-star with the team, to being labelled a post-season choke artist, to now.

Canada’s Wonderland doesn’t have a rollercoaster with as many peaks and valleys as Lowry’s tenure with the Raptors, but there has been one constant: Lowry’s will to win.

He’s now four wins away and Golden State Warriors-level obstacle be damned, are you really willing to bet against the greatest player in Raptors history now when he’s finally got this close?

If you are, then you simply haven’t been paying enough attention.

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