There was a huge sense of deja vu in Toronto on Saturday afternoon as the Raptors lost Game One of their first-round playoff encounter with the Indiana Pacers at the Air Canada Centre. The natives knew the feeling all too well and doubts once again surfaced about the team's chances of finally winning a playoff series.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, however, are paying no attention to the noises outside and are in confident mood going into Game Two.
It is well known that the Raptors have never won a playoff series and DeRozan and Lowry have been carrying that burden in their last two trips to the postseason and could've been affected by it mentally as they both had off nights in the 100-90 loss to a Paul George-inspired Pacers team.
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DeRozan shot 5-19 and ended with 14 points whilst Lowry shot 3-13 and only put up 11 points. Both players averaged 23.5 and 21.2 points respectively during the regular season, but despite their struggles, Lowry says it hasn't had an effect.
“My confidence is unshaken. Do I look shaky? I look strong, don’t I?” said Lowry.
“You can’t hide [from a bad game], but I definitely didn’t go on social media because I know they were probably talking a lot of trash. But that’s life.”
Lowry added that even though he's avoided social media, he's aware of what is being said as he has experienced it all before.
“I’m not shying away from it. It’s just at that point where it’s like all right, whatever,” Lowry said. “I know what everybody’s going to say, ‘Here we go again.’ I read everybody. There you go right there: That’s what they said.”
DeRozan, who is the longest-serving member of the Raptors roster, had a different approach altogether to shun the negativity following their 10-point loss.
“Yeah, I erased my Instagram, my Twitter, all of that,” DeRozan said. “I just don’t want to accidentally click on any of that.”
The truth is the two All-Stars don't want to hear it and don't need to hear it as they know more than anybody else what's at stake and how big the moment is for the entire organisation.
As the leaders of the team, they must step up and be accountable and are approaching Game Two in the right frame of mind.
“You’re fighting for your life,” DeRozan said. “If you were drowning in the water, you’re gonna figure out something to hold onto, to float on, right? You kind of have that natural instinct when you’re a competitor, and that’s the beauty of this game -- when things get rough, you kind of find enjoyment in it and trying to overcome it. That’s the great thing about basketball.”
In the aftermath of the disappointing loss, as per ESPN, it was DeMarre Carroll who took it upon himself to remind the backcourt duo of their importance to the team by sending text messages to the pair.
“I told Kyle and DeMar basically we’re going to go as far as they take us,” Carroll said via ESPN. “The rest of us are basically role players. They’re All-Stars for a reason, so I don’t think they’ll shoot that same percentage again. Just go out and play their game -- that’s basically what I said.”
The hugely significant Game Two takes place on Tuesday at 12am.