Sixers History | Game 7s
Six times in Sixers history, the franchise has survived a Game 7. Five of those occasions saw the club win and move on to face another tough playoff opponent, while the other saw coronation as NBA champions.
2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
The last two Game 7 victories for the 76ers came in the 2001 playoffs. The Eastern Conference Semifinals that year against the Toronto Raptors was a memorable back and forth showcase for Allen Iverson and Vince Carter. Iverson averaged 33.7 points per game and had two 50-point games in the series, while Carter averaged 30.4 points and had a 50-point game of his own for the Raptors. In Game 7, though, the limelight fell on Toronto big man Antonio Davis (23 pts, 11-15 fg) and Sixth Man of the Year Aaron McKie (22 pts). The Sixers survived, 88-87, after a last-second Carter jumper missed its mark.
2001 Eastern Conference Finals: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Moving on to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals, the Sixers had an easier Game 7 versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Now it was not an easy series, but the climactic seventh game was the easiest win for either team all series, as the 76ers prevailed, 108-91. Iverson scorched Milwaukee for 44 points while Dikembe Mutombo controlled the interior with 23 points, 19 rebounds, and seven blocks.
1982 Eastern Conference Finals: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
Next we jump back another two decades to the early 1980s.
In 1982, Andrew Toney had the game of his career as the team eliminated the Celtics in the Boston Garden. The Boston Strangler, as Toney was known, had 34 points on 14-for-23 shooting. Lost a bit in Toney’s shine was Julius Erving having a commanding performance himself: 29 points, five assists, three steals, and three blocks. The 120-106 victory sent the Sixers onward to the 1982 NBA Finals.
1981 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The year before in 1981, the Sixers and Bucks had another classic series. This Game 7 was a whole lot closer than the one in 2001. Bucks forward Marques Johnson played like a man possessed as he racked up 36 points on 16-25 FGs and also corralled nine rebounds. Center Bob Lanier was a titan as well with 24 points on 9-for-12 field goals. Milwaukee’s frontcourt brawn was matched by the agility of Erving and Bobby Jones. Doctor J didn’t shoot extremely well (just 11-26 fg), but he finished with 28 points while swatting six Milwaukee shots. Coming off the bench, Jones delivered 21 points on 5-for-8 shooting and 11-for-12 on free throws. Their efforts were just enough to squeeze out a 99-98 win to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
1977 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
In 1977, the Sixers and Celtics had another Game 7 this time in the ECSF. And this game was not for anyone who likes shotmaking. This was a brutal contest that saw both teams shoot horrifically. The Celtics finished 30% from the field while the Sixers were barely better at 33%.
Boston held the edge on the boards (65-53) thanks to Dave Cowens grabbing an impressive 27 rebounds. However, Philadelphia got the victory thanks to some sharp free-throw shooting. The team finished 23-for-26 (89%) from the line led by World B. Free’s perfect 7-for-7 performance. Meanwhile Boston was a miserable 23-for-35 (66%). It made the difference in the 83-77 Sixers win.
1955 NBA Finals: Syracuse Nationals vs. Fort Wayne Pistons
Lastly we have the first Game 7 victory in franchise history and it’s certainly the grandest.
In the 1955 NBA Finals, the Syracuse Nationals were down 3-2 in the series to the Fort Wayne Pistons. Dolph Schayes’ 28 points and 12 boards delivered a 109-104 win in Game 6. Then in Game 7, seven Nats players finished between 11 and 15 points. Guard George King was the leading man with 15 points. He was also the leading man in the final moments as he sank a free throw to put Syracuse ahead 92-91 and then on the game’s final play stole the ball from the Pistons to secure the NBA title.
If the past is any guide, winning Game 7 won’t be easy, but it can be done. Here’s hoping for that seventh Game 7 victory.