Game 7 Preview: Raptors vs Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers (3-3) @ Toronto Raptors (3-3)
When: Sunday, May 12, 7 P.M. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
- Injury report: For the Raptors, OG Anunoby (appendectomy), Chris Boucher (back spasms) and Jordan Loyd (coach’s decision) are out. For the Sixers, the injury report is to be determined.
- Homecourt advantage: The Raptors are back in Toronto to host the Philadelphia 76ers in a series-deciding Game 7 on their home floor. This is the fifth time in franchise history that Toronto will play a Game 7, and the fourth time playing it at home. Toronto’s last Game 7 was a victory against the Miami Heat in the second round in 2016.
- Recent history: After earning a 125-89 victory that set a franchise record for margin of victory in a postseason game in Game 5, the series once shifted again in Philadelphia. The Sixers, with their backs against the wall and down 3 games to 2, set the tone from the jump and recorded a 112-101 victory to extend the series to Game 7. Toronto shot just 25 percent from beyond the arc in Game 6. Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 29 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a Sixers offence that saw six players reach double figures. Pascal Siakam also had 21 points for the Raptors and Kyle Lowry added 13 in the loss. Philadelphia was led by Jimmy Butler’s 25 points, a 21-point, eight-rebound, six-assist performance from Ben Simmons and a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double from Joel Embiid in the victory.
- Collective memory: The Raptors have nine players who have played in Game 7’s before, together making up 21 games of Game 7 experience. The Sixers have four players who have played in nine Game 7’s. Kyle Lowry leads the Raptors in Game 7 experience having played in four of them, three with Toronto and one while a member of the Houston Rockets. Lowry scored 35 points in Toronto’s last Game 7 victory against the Miami Heat in 2016. In four career Game 7’s, Lowry is averaging 20.5 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 53 percent from the floor. Along with Lowry, Norman Powell is the only other Raptors player remaining on the roster from the franchise's last Game 7 against the Heat. Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Serge Ibaka have each played in three Game 7's, while Powell has played in two, and Jeremy Lin, Patrick McCaw and Jodie Meeks have each played in one.
- Little things: After the Raptors won the battle of the little things — forcing turnovers, outrebounding the Sixers, pushing the pace and earning second-chance points — in a Game 5 victory, this flipped in Game 6. Toronto held a 42-37 advantage in rebounds in Game 5. The Sixers owned the glass in Game 6, and held a 52-34 rebound advantage, including a 16-9 edge on the offensive glass. “Rebounding has been a big advantage for them and we can’t let that happen. [We] can't,” Kyle Lowry said. “I think last game they had 15, 16 second-chance points, 56 points in the paint. Things like that we’ve got to control.” In addition to averaging a playoff-career high 31.0 points this postseason (that average going up to 33.7 points in six games against the Sixers), Kawhi Leonard has led the Raptors in rebounding against the Sixers, averaging 10.2 boards per game. For Leonard, all of those little things will mean a lot when the ball goes up on Sunday. “We've played them six times already,” Leonard said. “It's gonna be who wants it more. 50/50 balls, who's gonna win that, rebounding, and then just making shots, things you can't control, just see who makes shots.” Leonard is also averaging 4.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game against Philadelphia this series.
- Laying it all on the floor: Once a series gets to Game 7, each team has had six opportunities to learn its opponent. There might be unexpected adjustments here or there, but there are few all-out surprises when playing a team this many times consecutively. A topic that has been raised before (and after) every game has been the minutes played by each team’s star players. In Game 7, with everything on the line, traditional substitution patterns and minutes played are likely to go the wayside. “I think the minutes things for both teams are going to be off the table tomorrow,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “I would expect the best players to play absolutely as many minutes as they possibly can all the way through until it's decided.”