Kyle Lowry is fully aware of the seed of doubt that surrounds the Toronto Raptors when entering the playoffs, often pegged as no more than second-round contenders due to their recent history of postseason failures.

Lowry, for one, has been criticized for his poor play when it counts, though he has managed to right the ship in the last two postseasons, showing an improved 3-point prowess and a more efficient all-around game. Yet that hasn’t made the disappointment of failing to reach the NBA Finals any easier:

“The last couple years, I’ve played great in the playoffs,” said Lowry, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “This is one thing about the NBA: You play to get to a certain point, and then once you lose, you’re zero. You’re back at the bottom. You have to play to get to that point again, but at the same time, it’s like, ‘Damn. When is it going to come? When is it going to happen?’

“It’s kind of like… it’s a waiting game. But I know Kawhi [Leonard] said these games are practices, but it’s about your team, and it’s about getting work in and continuing to get better as a team. And then in the playoffs, that’s where it matters.

“That’s all that really matters.”

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Kyle Lowry feels more confident going into this postseason because of the supporting cast that has been put around him and how his new-look team has jelled over the course of the season:

“We’ve got Kawhi. We’ve got Marc. We’ve got a good team. We’ve got good individuals,” said Lowry. “I think it’s going to be one of those years where we know what we are. We’re not trying … we know what it is [we are after].

“Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters but the trophy.”

The Raptors will have a steep mountain to climb, as the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks are all potential rivals in the East they’ll be forced to go through before reaching the NBA Finals and proving their championship mettle.