Sixers win 112-101 to take Toronto Raptors to deciding game
The Toronto Raptors arrived in Philidelphia hot on the heels of their biggest ever playoff victory in franchise history. It almost seemed as if the spot in the Eastern Conference finals was just 48 minutes away. However, the Sixers had other plans.
But that confidence evaporated with a slow start and poor shooting. And now the Raptors big dreams of a long playoff run have come down to just one deciding game back on home court.
Just moments after a 112-101 blowout loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Kyle Lowry knew the chance had been missed, as he spoke about the “big game” they’re facing over the weekend.
“We have to play harder,” Lowry said. “We have to do everything we need to do to win the game. It’s do or die, win or go home, really.”
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points for the Sixers, while Ben Simmons recorded 21. This was more than his points from Games 4 and 5 together. As the 76ers rolled over the Raptors to send the series back to Canada for a do-or-die Game Seven on Sunday.
“It was an amazing game. Everybody was locked in,” said Simmons, who’d had a lengthy pre-game chat with Hall of Famer Julius (Dr. J) Erving. “We knew what was at stake.”
Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points and 12 rebounds to top the Raptors (again). However, he went scoreless from the three-point line. Also, Pascal Siakam added 21, and Lowry scored 13. But reminiscent of Games two and three; there were no other Raptors in double figures. Serge Ibaka had nine points before fouling out with just under four minutes remaining.
“We didn’t play with enough force, we didn’t play hard enough, we didn’t stand in there, we didn’t play with enough physicality,” coach Nick Nurse said.
Seemingly recovered from the illness that had plagued him for the previous couple of games, Joel Embiid recorded 17 points to go with his 12 rebounds.
“I knew I had to come in with high spirits,” Embiid said. “If I’ve got to play 45 minutes and push myself out there, that’s what I’ll do.”
It seemed that he knew what he was talking about when he told Drake that the Sixers would be back for Game Seven as he walked off the court in Tuesday’s heavy defeat. They will be back alright, and with momentum on their side; it could be a sticky night for the Raps.
The Raptors knew the Sixers would be hungry, and buoyed by the team’s noisy fans back home at an ear-splitting Wells Fargo Arena.
“They’ll come out hard,” Leonard had said of Philly at the morning shootaround. “Nobody wants to go home, obviously both of us is one game away from winning or losing.”
Added Lowry: “They’re going to come out swinging and playing hard but we have to play more desperate than them.”
The Raptors had previously roared past Orlando 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs. However, they couldn’t match the ferocity of the Sixers. Who dominated most of the night.
It is sure to be a tense night at the Scotiabank on Sunday, where the Milwaukee Bucks will be waiting in the Eastern final for the winners.