It’ll be a somewhat bittersweet sensation when the Toronto Raptors square off against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, even more so now that Kyle Lowry will be out due to a fractured thumb.
Lowry and Leonard formed a strong friendship and partnership en route to the 2018-19 championship, but weren’t afforded the chance to run it back as the latter left for his hometown Clippers in free agency.
The Raptors’ guard was asked for his thoughts on Kawhi’s free-agency decision and what it’s like squaring off against the person who helped him reach basketball’s grandest heights.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything. I think it’s just going to be another basketball game,” Lowry told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
“I think Kawhi respects what he’s helped us do and respects the teammates and you know, the Clippers did a good job in their recruitment process. He made a choice for him. He decided to go home and you know, for me as a player, and I think for every other player on our team, we’re happy for him.
“We’re happy that he’s happy.”
Let’s run it back to the night where the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors. Does Lowry look like a guy who would ever blame Kawhi for leaving, knowing at the time that it would be a realistic proposition?
Just did a really cool interview with Kawhi and Kyle Lowry, about how they got here and everything this title means, and here’s what happened before we even started rolling. Special. pic.twitter.com/jpZIBJlxdI— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 14, 2019
Many have written off the Raptors as a championship threat, but they’re perhaps forcing the skeptics to re-evaluate, especially after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 113-104 on Sunday without Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Squaring off against a Clippers team that many believe is a favourite to win it all alongside the Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks, Lowry made sure to reiterate what the focus is for the Raptors.
“We’re going to try to get that gold ball. We’re trying to get back to that point. That’s the goal. It’s the only goal that matters.”
More Raptors coverage from Yahoo Sports