The Toronto Raptors fanbase began holding its collective breath as soon as Kyle Lowry went down with a sprained left ankle that would limit him to just nine minutes in the first quarter of the Raptors Game 4 over the Brooklyn Nets.
An MRI confirmed the sprained left ankle and he is now questionable for Sunday's Game 1 against the Boston Celtics.
Although Lowry has garnered a reputation of playing through injury - effectively, I might add - there is a chance he might not be ready to go as soon as the second round starts.
If so, should Raptors fans hit the panic button? Not so fast.
There's no question that having Lowry suit up as soon as possible is the best-case scenario but they walk a fine line of rushing him back too soon, as they'll need him as close to full health as possible for the majority of what will likely be a long series.
Besides, this is a team that has embodied the "next man up" mentality this season, holding its own in 14 games without its All-Star point guard, posting a record of 12-2.
Take a look back to how the Raptors did without Lowry in the 2019-20 season for a reference point.
|Date||Result||Lineup||Points Leader||Assists Leader|
|Nov. 10, 2019||Raptors 113, Lakers 104||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 24||VanVleet, 10|
|Nov. 11, 2019||Clippers 98, Raptors 88||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. SIakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 16||VanVleet, 6|
|Nov. 13, 2019||Raptors 114, Trail Blazers 106||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, M. Miller, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 36||VanVleet, 7|
|Nov. 16, 2019||Mavericks 110, Raptors 102||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Powell, 26||2 tied with 7|
|Nov. 18, 2019||Raptors 132, Hornets 96||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Anunoby, 24||Gasol, 9|
|Nov. 20, 2019||Raptors 113, Magic 97||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||VanVleet, 24||VanVleet, 7|
|Nov. 23, 2019||Raptors 119, Hawks 116||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 34||VanVleet, 9|
|Nov. 25, 2019||Raptors 101, 76ers 96||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 25||Gasol, 9|
|Nov. 27, 2019||Raptors 126, Knicks 98||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 31||Davis, 5|
|Nov. 29, 2019||Raptors 90, Magic 83||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Powell, 33||Siakam, 5|
|Dec. 1, 2019||Raptors 130, Jazz 110||F. VanVleet, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Siakam, 35||VanVleet, 11|
|Feb. 8, 2020||Raptors 119, Nets 118||F. VanVleet, T. Davis, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, S. Ibaka||VanVleet, 29||VanVleet, 6|
|Aug. 10, 2020||Raptors 114, Bucks 106||T. Davis, N. Powell, O. Anunoby, P. Siakam, M. Gasol||Boucher, 25||Gasol, 8|
|Aug. 14, 2020||Raptors 117, Nuggets 109||T. Davis, N. Powell, M. Thomas, R. Hollis-Jefferson, M. Gasol||Johnson, 23||Johnson, 6|
Of course, the results of the final two games listed were inconsequential and a postseason meeting with the Celtics is a much different challenge than a meeting with the New York Knicks in late November, but a few observations can be made from the above list.
If there was any question, you can almost count on Norman Powell getting the starting nod should Lowry be unable to go.
Let the numbers tell the story - Powell is essentially a sixth starter, anyway. In 26 games filling in as a starter this season, Powell has posted averages of 18.7 points and 3.7 boards while shooting 52.2% from the field, 44.4% from deep and 82.5% from the field, serving as the team's scoring leader twice when Lowry didn't suit up.
Magical performance from @npowell2404. #WeTheNorth- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 30, 2019
33 Pts (Career-High) | 5 3pm | 2 Stl | 67 FG% pic.twitter.com/lZYgUO6Tke
Fred VanVleet will assume primary playmaking responsibilities but they don't fall solely on his shoulders.
Marc Gasol shouldered more of the offensive load as a passer in Lowry's absence, averaging 4.8 assists in games that Lowry did not suit up, leading the team in helpers three times. In the 2019-20 season, Gasol dished out five or more assists in 15 of the 44 games he appeared in - eight of those 15 were without Lowry.
The biggest focus shifts to Pascal Siakam, who was the Raptors' leading scorer this season and the high scorer in half of the games that Lowry did not appear in. He also posted a career-high in an early November meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans that saw Lowry exit early with the hand injury that kept him out of 11 games.
Enjoy these @pskills43 highlights with your morning coffee. #WeTheNorth- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 9, 2019
44 Pts | 61 FG% | 10 Reb | 5 3PM | 4 Ast pic.twitter.com/DlV7Se07yk
After averaging 20.8 points (on 41.7% shooting) in the opening round, Siakam looks poised to make a jump in scoring production in the second round; Toronto is going to need his scoring punch, with or without Lowry.
Raptors fans, don't be alarmed. While there hasn't been any indication that Lowry won't play, you can find comfort in the team's ability to step up to get a win in the event he's not ready to go for Game 1.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Celtics and Raptors takes place on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 6:30 ET on TSN.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.