Ready for Game 7 between the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics? The Raptors faded an elimination with a stunning victory in a 125-122 double-overtime thriller in Game 6 against the Celtics. The defending champion Raptors trailed the Celtics at every point during this series, but they’re one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
For a hot minute, the Celtics and Raptors series looked like it was headed for another four-game sweep. The Celtics won the first two games, and the Raptors looked like they were toast.
The Raptors rallied to victories in Game 3 and Game 4 to pull even. The Celtics regained the lead in Game 5, but the Raptors evened the series once again with the overtime thriller in Game 6.
“Great basketball game,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens.
|#3 Boston Celtics (3-3) vs #2 Toronto Raptors (3-3)|
- Tip-off: 6:00pm PT
- Point Spread: -2.5
- Total: 204.5 o/u
- Money Line: TOR +120 / BOS -130
The Boston and Toronto series comes down to a final Game 7.
“All you can ask for is a chance,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.
The Celtics are now 17-22 in “close out” games since 2008. In Game 7 scenarios, the Celtics are 23-9 all-time, while the Raptors are 3-2.
According to a recent update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Celtics are 8/1 odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship. The Raptors are 10/1 odds to pull off a repeat championship.
Boston’s Iron 5
Will the long minutes catch up to the Celtics? Brad Stevens didn’t use his bench in the fourth quarter, or in either overtime session.
“They weren’t subbing either,” said Stevens in his own defense.
Five starters logged 50-plus minutes. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 31 points in Game 6. Jayson Tatum missed a triple-double with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists.
Kemba Walker struggled in Game 6, but then again, the Raptors specifically targeted him from the opening tip. In something out of a high school game, Toronto’s head coach Nick Nurse employed a box-and-1 defense with the sole man-to-man defender shadowing Walker.
The Raptors played most of the first quarter under that defensive setting, which threw Walker for a loop. He went 0-for-3 from the floor. In the second half, the Raptors switched up their defense and opted for a small-ball lineup. Walker continued to struggle with a 2-for-8 clip in the second half and overtime sessions.
“The second half, I just couldn’t really find a rhythm,” said Walker. “I had a few good looks, but it just wasn’t enough to help my teammates out tonight. Just a bad offensive night for me, terrible offensive night for me.”
The defensive curveball worked and the Raptors held Walker to just five points in 52 minutes.
Poked the Bear, Nurse Zone
“They poked the bear,” said Nick Nurse.
Kyle Lowry is the bear in this case. Brad Wannamaker caused a gash on Lowry’s chin that required three stitches after the game. Wannamaker poked the bear, and the bear dropped 33 points on the Celtics in the double-overtime win.
Lowry shot 12-for-20 from the field, including 6-for-10 from 3-point range. He also pulled down eight rebounds and dished six assists in the Game 6 victory.
Pascal Siakim continues to struggle, scoring just 12 points in 54 minutes of action. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts in Game 6, and shot just 5-for-19 from the field.
Norman Powell picked up the scoring slack with 23 points off the bench. He also made a key defensive play in double overtime to help seal the win.
“Norm saved us,” said VanVleet. “He saved our season, and it’s kind of his trademark now.”
Nurse’s zone defense helped keep the Celtics off balance in the first half of Game 6. The Celtics should be better prepared for the Raptors in Game 7, but who knows what Nurse will throw at Boston next. How about a triangle and two?
After avoiding extinction in Game 6, the Raptors are still on the brink of elimination.
“I think every win is the biggest win so far,” said OG Anunoby. “It was a tough game, we were resilient, and we came out on top. That’s our goal every game, just to win. So, every win is the biggest win.”
YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND THE GRIND pic.twitter.com/03Qh18wvFJ
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 10, 2020