Team Prepared for Whatever it Takes in Game 7
The stage, set.
The lights, brighter than they’ve been in almost two decades.
The Game: 7.
With their backs against the wall and their season on the line, the 76ers powered their way to a decisive Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 6 win Thursday at home over the Toronto Raptors, 112-101.
They’ll need one more victory to survive and advance, Sunday in enemy territory.
“Playing in Game 7s is different,” Brett Brown said. “There just is a heightened sense of urgency in Game 7s, and it incrementally increases as the clock winds down.”
The Sixers certainly have a great momentum builder thanks to Game 6, as each of their starters finished in double figures, led by Jimmy Butler’s 25 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
The team’s young All-Stars stepped up as well, as Ben Simmons produced a series-high 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Joel Embiid finished with 17 points, 12 boards, and a massive plus-40 rating.
“I thought to have that type of performance at home, in a close-out game, not a lot of experience in the playoffs, I thought it was a fantastic sign,” Brown said of his young players’ fight.
Tobias Harris enters Game 7 following arguably his strongest performance in the series, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and a steal.
“I thought we definitely took a step forward in our play, just with our energy, and how locked in and focused we are,” Harris said at Saturday’s practice in Toronto. “We were with our backs against the wall, so we’ve got to bring that same type of energy and enthusiasm into our next game.”
Butler has been an undeniable force throughout the Sixers’ semifinal duel with Toronto, scoring at least 22 points in each of the last five games. But perhaps more importantly, Butler has chosen to, in his words, “lead by example”.
“He’s gonna do everything in his power to make sure that we get that win,” Embiid said.
Butler says it’s all about bringing the team what it needs, when it needs it most.
“We just want to win,” Butler said. “Do whatever they ask me to do, try the best of my ability to win the game, and help in any way that they tell me or want me to do it.”
Butler has only played in one Game 7 in his career, but made the most of every minute -- literally.
In the first round of the 2013 playoffs, with the Chicago Bulls facing the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7, Butler played all 48 minutes, helping facilitate the team’s 99-93 win. It was the Bulls’ first-ever Game 7 road win.
JJ Redick has played in five Game 7s. He is 3-2 in those games, including a 20-point performance that lifted the LA Clippers over the Golden State Warriors on May 3, 2014. Redick added three rebounds, an assist, and two steals in the contest, finishing with a team-high plus-20 in 31 minutes of play.
“You can’t be scared of the moment,” Redick said.
Mike Scott, who finished with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and a plus-29 rating in Thursday’s Game 6, appeared in a Game 7 in 2014 as an Atlanta Hawk. He remembers the moment well, and is applying lessons learned then to the challenge ahead.
“Just got to cherish each possession,” Scott said Saturday. “It’s going to be hostile. I like our chances.”
Game 7 tips off Sunday at 7:00 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena.
• Audio: 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network
• Video: TNT / TNTdrama.com/watchtnt