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Villanova Basketball’s Kyle Lowry is facing a career defining Game 7

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Lowry and the Raptors need to get over the hump this season, or be in danger of a complete rebuild.

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Happy Friday Nova Nation! Last night Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors failed to clinch their series with the Philadelphia 76ers, and are headed to a Game 7. Lowry had 13 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in the losing effort, but it wasn’t enough to overcome his home-town team. And unfortunately “wasn’t enough” has started to become a defining trait of Lowry’s Toronto teams in the postseason.

Kyle Lowry is arguably the most successful NBA player ever to come out of Jay Wright’s program. Now in his 13th NBA season, Lowry has led his team to the playoffs for six straight seasons, won a gold medal in the Olympics, and been selected to five consecutive All-Star teams. But once he gets to the playoffs, hasn’t gone much further. Lowry’s been to the postseason in 2009 with Houston and the last five seasons with Toronto. Only once (2016) did he make the Conference Finals, in which the Raptors lost in six to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The next two seasons his teams were swept out of the second round, and now he faces a winner take all game in an attempt to make it back to the Eastern Finals. He’s been here before, but he’s never been able to earn his team a shot at the Championship.

If Toronto wins, it will be huge for Lowry. That would be two conference finals in four seasons, something few teams outside of Cleveland or Golden State have been able to say in recent years. But a loss, and it’s one trip to the Easter Finals in six consecutive tries. Toronto already made it’s “big splash” by trading away another All-Star for what could be a one year lease on Kawhi Leonard, arguably one of the five best players in the NBA. If that still doesn’t get them over the hump, then it may be time to stop trying to make this formula up and really shake up the organization.

And so we head into the weekend with Lowry’s legacy on the line. Failing to make it out of the second round again could be the final straw for him in Toronto as one of the teams leaders for so long. He’ll always be considered a success, but you’re not “great” unless you win in the playoffs. Lowry’s career post-season record through Thursday is a mediocre 35-40, and he’s never reached the Championship game. But if he can help lead his team to a victory and a return to the Eastern Conference Finals, it should finally shake the notion that he’s “just a regular season player”.

Sadly, as a 76ers fan I will be rooting for Lowry to play well in a losing effort. But should the Sixers lose I’ll at least have Lowry’s success as a silver lining. Either way, Villanova will technically still have a horse in the race with Donte DiVincenzo’s Milwaukee Bucks. The Big Ragu may be out with an injury, but his team is still poised for a title run.

In other “news”, Josh Hart is improving, CBS will continue to air Big East basketball, and Arizona isn’t going to quit digging that grave until they come out the other side. Enjoy!

NBA Wildcats

Kyle Lowry College: Why Top High School Prospect Received Few Offers | Heavy.com
Kyle Lowry is playing past concerns about his playoff struggles. Disrespect is nothing new for the 5-time All-Star. He only earned 4 offers out of high school.

Point guard Kyle Lowry can’t set the tone as Sixers force a Game 7 in Toronto | The Star
Point guard played smart and hard, but not smart and hard enough.

Lakers: One thing Josh Hart needs to improve this summer | Silver Screen and Roll
In many ways, Josh Hart represents one of the most desirable player archetypes in the league, but diversifying his game could be the next step in stopping the Lakers guard from getting typecast.

2019 NBA Draft Rumors: ‘Jazz Are Not Afraid of Trading out of the First Round’ | Bleacher Report
On the heels of an abrupt first-round playoff exit, the Utah Jazz appear ready to take big swings in an effort to improve their roster for next season. Per the report, the Jazz have shown interest in Villanova’s Eric Paschall.

NFL Wildcats

Dolphins sign 18 college free agents | ProFootballTalk
The Dolphins signed 18 undrafted college free agents, the team announced Thursday. Among them is Villanova DB Rob Rolle.

Grading Every NFL Team's Undrafted Free-Agent Haul | Bleacher Report
The 2019 NFL draft ended more than a week ago, which feels like an eternity during the offseason. Three former Villanova Wildcats were signed as undrafted free agents.

Big East

CBS will sublicense Big East basketball games from Fox through 2024-25 | Awful Announcing
Big East games will continue to be shown on CBS and CBSSN through 2024-25. CBS has signed a new sublicensing deal with Fox for 20 games a year.

College Basketball

The top point guards coming to college basketball | 247 Sports
A pretty strong class of lead guards are headed to college hoops for the 2019-20 season. Chris Arcidiacono must have just missed the Top 10.

Arizona President: ‘Sean [Miller’s] our coach’ | NBC Sports
The president gave Miller a vote on confidence on Thursday.