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Post-Game 3 Breakdown: Superstar Lowry is Back

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When Jonas Valanciunas went down, two old familiar faces made appearances. One welcome, one... less so.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3 was a resounding success in the win column, with the Raptors stealing back home court and giving themselves a chance to take a big series lead back home. The big stories in this game were a couple old familiar faces making reappearances. But first...

Jonas Valanciunas, The Man

We'll see just how serious his injury is, but let's take a minute to appreciate what Valanciunas did to the Heat in the first two and a half quarters last night.

16 points on 12 shots, 12 rebounds (3 offensive) an assist and a steal. +12 in 22 minutes. Throw in 4 more screen assists, 2 deflections, and 11 contested shots (tied for the most on either team), and you've got a pretty impressive half-game. And that's with him going only 2 for 5 on FTA's, where he has shot 80% from this post-season.

We've covered his effectiveness plenty, but it is worth reminding ourselves what the team would be missing if he is hurt for any length of time.

Now on to the old, familiar faces.

Luis Scola, The Too Old Man

Never thought you'd see him again in this post-season, right?

When Valanciunas went down, and Biyombo's struggles continued, the door was opened for some small ball lineups with a power forward playing as the de facto centre. The obvious choice here would be Patterson, who has struggled to find a role at PF against this all-small Heat team. Interestingly enough, for 5 minutes spanning the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarter, Luis Scola made an appearance.

For those who have followed his regular season and post-season struggles, he did not surprise, except by being in the game at all.

Scola missed the two wide open three pointers he took and committed three fouls. While he was on the court, the Raptors did not score a point, and allowed 13 (good for an obvious and hilarious 0 ORTG and an abysmal 129 DRTG). Here's hoping we don't see him again anytime soon.

Okay, on to happier thoughts. The other familiar face making an appearance this game was...

Kyle Lowry, The Transcendent Man

Specifically, superstar Kyle Lowry.

His first half was nothing special, though he made a couple aggressive drives to the rim and took a couple threes that the tentative Lowry of the past few weeks has been passing up.

But that second half. When JV went down, someone needed to step up. And Lowry was the guy to answer the call.

9 for 13 from the field, 5 for 5 from 3, perfect from the line on 6 attempts, 2 rebounds and a steal, good for 29 second half points and enough to keep the Raptors afloat (+1 plus-minus in the 2nd half) without Valanciunas and with Wade suddenly becoming unstoppable.

And let's take a moment to appreciate just how effective he's been all playoffs long. He leads all regulars on on-court net rating (+2.3, the only positive among the regulars). When he sits, the team is abysmal (-26.7 off-court net rating, by far the worst on the team). And all this with him struggling with his shot. How?

Well, the NBA's new "hustle" stats that they are tracking for these playoffs shed some light. Lowry leads all playoff teams in deflections with 33. He's 4th in the playoffs in loose balls recovered. He's third in charges drawn. He's been doing all the little things that help your team win, even when his shot is not falling.

It was no different last night. Yes, superstar Kyle Lowry was back, hitting shots and winning games. But he was still doing a little bit of everything. He led both teams in deflections with 5 (no other player had more than 2). He managed to contest 4 shots at the rim. And although he only posted 2 assists in this one, he added 2 free throw assists and a secondary assist (assisting the assister).

And if his shot is falling, look out. Superstar Kyle Lowry might just be back.