TSN Rewind: NBA: Raptors 101, 76ers 112
We’re running it back because they can’t.
With the National Basketball Association on hold for the foreseeable future, TSN and Sportsnet are airing the entirety of the Toronto Raptors’ playoff run to the 2019 NBA title. You can watch Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night starting at 8pm ET/5pm PT on TSN 4/5 and streaming on TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct or listen on TSN Radio 1050 Toronto.
Over these 24 games, fans can relive the highs and lows – there were lows, but you just might not remember them – of that magical run to the franchise’s first-ever championship, capping a remarkable turnaround from NBA laughingstock to the league’s very best.
From Kawhi Leonard calling the series against the Philadelphia 76ers, to the team improbably overturning a 2-0 series deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks, to that famous June night in Oakland when the Raptors got their hands on the Larry OB, you can relive all 24 games that made the Toronto Raptors NBA champions.
After picking up back-to-back wins in Game 4 and Game 5, the Toronto Raptors had an opportunity to put away the Philadelphia 76ers and advance to their second Eastern Conference Finals in franchise history with a Game 6 triumph in Philly.
Toronto made it to the East Finals in 2016 where they fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in a series that was never close despite almost going the distance.
The Raptors seemed to have turned a tide against the 76ers following consecutive losses in Game 3 and 4. Toronto had maybe their best game of the playoffs so far with a convincing 125-89 rout in Game 5 on home court to take a 3-2 series lead.
Kawhi Leonard, who had put the Raptors on his back to win an all-important Game 4 on the road, got plenty more help in this contest.
The former San Antonio Spur was solid once again, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but Pascal Siakam had a game-high 25 points while Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka all scored in double figures as well. Toronto nailed 16 three-pointers on 40 attempts from behind the arc.
"I think tonight was one of those games where we let him rest a little bit, which is important," said Lowry. "He didn't have to do everything offensively. Those are the things that we need to do as a team to continue to get better."
At this point of last year’s playoffs, many felt Leonard was playing the best ball out of anybody in the Association. Check out these numbers heading into Game 6.
- Leonard scored 20 or more points in seven straight games, one game away from tying Vince Carter for a Raptors playoff record.
- He joined LeBron James as the only player in the last three decades to average over 30 points per game on 55 per cent shooting in the first 10 games of a postseason.
- Leonard had four 30-point games against the Sixers. Michael Jordan (1990), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970, 1980), Rick Barry (1967) and Oscar Robertson (1964) are the only players in history to accomplish this feat against Philadelphia in a single series.
- Toronto outscored Philadelphia by 46 while Leonard is on the court and have been outscored by 18 when he’s taking a rest.
- Leonard is shooting 88 per cent on open shots and 49 per cent while contested.
On the other side of the ball, All-Star centre Joel Embiid, who was battling a flu all series long, managed to put up just 13 points and added six assists in the loss. To make matters worse for the 26-year-old, Raptors fans mocked Embiid's memorable "airplane" celebration from Philadelphia's big win in Game 3.
Embiid knew he need to play better back home if the Sixers stood a chance to even the series.
"You know, can't control my physical condition, but I can also control how much I push myself and I try to do that," Embiid said. "But I've just got to do more."
Philadelphia’s 36-point loss was the second worst in team playoff history, losing to the Boston Celtics by 40 in 1982.
The East-leading Milwaukee Bucks had already dispatched the Celtics in five games and were awaiting the winner of the Raptors and 76ers. Would the Raptors join them or would the 76ers push this second-round series to the brink?
Here's what TSN's basketball analysts had to say about Game 6.
“If you can score more points than Philly in the next 48 minutes, you’re in the Eastern Conference finals. Doesn’t have to be a blowout. Shoot, it doesn’t even have to be pretty. Simple right? Not when the 76ers showed the type of resilience they did in game 6. Warning! A tough Philadelphia team on the brink of elimination at home is dangerous.”
“As good as this series was, don’t forget: 4 of the 7 games were blowouts. The Sixers played like a desperate team and the Raptors couldn’t match their intensity in front of a LOUD Philly crowd. They shot 25% from 3, got out-rebounded 52-34, and they only led for 1 minute. Another familiar issue: Leonard and Siakam got almost no help. Bring on Game 7!”
“Every time I thought I had figured this series out I was wrong! All that momentum from game 5: gone. Let’s call a spade a spade, watching the Raptors clank 3 after 3 was downright painful. They didn’t have it, it wasn’t their night… but having to play game 7 didn’t end up being the worse thing, did it?!”
“Jimmy Butler & Ben Simmons were the best two players in building. Best, disciplined performance by Simmons after a disastrous Game 5. The moment of truth is coming for both teams!”
“Welcome to Game 6 of the Rubik's Cube series. I mean seriously, had anybody figured any of this out yet? The word momentum quite simply hasn't had any momentum and anytime you think you've got some insight into what might happen. When you might have an idea - it's like watching a White House press conference - FLIP FLOP. Just when the Raptors, after a game five blowout, looked like they might be able to lay the hammer down - seal the deal - twist the knife - uh...never mind. The Sixers played like a desperate team. Ben Simmons arrived to the party, Brett Brown played good poker, and so now we get ready for the two most delicious words in sports: Game Seven.”
“When the Sixers win - you can bank on one thing - Jimmy Butler was big! Jimmy Buckets dropped 24 and was all over game 6. He did get a little help from Ben Simmons - who’s 21 points was more than he scored in the last two games combined! Even Embiid dropped a double-double!! So here we are - game 7! This is why you got Kawhi...and this is why you fight for home court. It’s going to be an epic battle!”
“With the stakes so high, you just knew that this one was going to be tough. Don’t let the final score fool you – the Raptors were off beat from the start. The team that lead the league in shooting from the 3-point line after the All-Star break finished 9-for-36 from outside. On the other end, Ben Simmons had a game: 21 PTS, 8 REB, 0 TO and the Raptors just couldn’t stop him or Jimmy Butler from handling their business in the paint. It would set the table for one of biggest games in franchise history sure, but BEFORE we knew what we know now, let’s acknowledge that collective panic in Toronto for what was coming: Game 7.”