Rudy Gay was sidelined Saturday night with back spasms while the Toronto Raptors lost 122-114 to the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime. It has become evidently clear that the Raptors need Gay’s presence in the lineup in order to have any success.
There is a good chance that with Gay on the court Toronto would have been able to pull off the victory against Milwaukee. That additional threat would have sealed the deal against a Bucks team that was down by nine points after the first quarter.
The Raptors actually played very well offensively without Gay, with seven players scoring at least 10 points or more. Power forward Amir Johnson consistently drove to the basket with success while DeMar DeRozan did his best to make plays along the perimeter, although his 6-for-21 shooting was not exactly what Toronto needed to keep their NBA playoff hopes alive.
Gay has been unbelievable this season since being traded to the Raptors from the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this year. He has been the heart and soul of the team while putting up ridiculous numbers. He has gone over 20 points in four of his last six games, including a season-high 32 points in a win against the New York Knicks. Not to mention, he is averaging a career-high 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 steals and 38.5 minutes per game while shooting 38.7 percent from the field since joining the team.
The 26-year-old has been the go-to-guy as well after hitting clutch game-winners against the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers. He has improved Toronto’s outside shooting and is determined to raise the overall level of play around him.
The Raptors may be done for the season or at least all signs point to it after the loss to the eighth seeded Bucks, but the good news is Toronto has a very bright future with Gay on their team among other talented players. As long as he stays healthy, I believe the Raptors will be a legitimate threat in the future as long as they can maintain a key core of guys.