A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
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Toronto was dead in the water, staring into the looming maw of a 3-0 series deficit to the Celtics, the would-be usurpers of the NBA throne.
Then OG Anunoby, one of the most pivotal pillars in Toronto’s transition to post-Kawhi life, save the day.
DIFFICULTY: The majority of this category is found not in the shot, but in the pass. Kyle Lowry realized Anunoby was neglected on the weak side of the floor and lofted a two-handed pass with enough strength to stay ahead of the off-their-guard defense. The ball landed exactly in Anunoby’s catching pocket, enabling him to take one of the most wide-open, win-or-lose shots in NBA playoff history.
GAME SITUATION: Toronto’s championship chops showed up big-time, here. They had just watched Kemba Walker slice through their defense and deliver what would have been an all-time no-look assist to take the lead. Only 0.5 seconds remained on the clock. The Raptors’ perimeter players don’t get the casual fan’s notice as knock-down shooters. Six of their regular rotation players shot 38% or better from deep in the regular season. Anunoby and Toronto were ready.
CELEBRATION: The team mobbed Anunoby, but it wasn’t a delirious, carry-him-to-the-ground bedlam. The celebration seemed as much about Anunoby as it was about Toronto avoiding the undefeated 3-0 series hole in which Toronto nearly found itself. Anunoby is a product of Toronto’s deservedly praised player development program. His teammates, coaches and front office personnel know he has put in the reps. Thursday was the ultimate example of how that process can pay off.
"I don't shoot trying to miss."
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 4, 2020
GRADE: They were down 2-0, not 3-0, but Thursday felt like a must-win for Toronto. The Raptors haven’t been able to establish a clear advantage over the Celtics. A second consecutive one-possession loss would have added to the weight entering Game 4 winless. Instead, the Raptors are alive and have a chance to make this a whole new series. 4.5 Horrys.