TORONTO – One day, the team will come back from a 3-0 loss to win an NBA playoff.
But it won’t be the Toronto Raptors 2022.
After becoming the 14th team to extend a better streak of seven to Game 6 after falling behind 3-0, the Raptors didn’t have enough to extend that streak into another game. The Philadelphia 76ers—thanks to a dominant third quarter that saw them edge Toronto 37-17 and on one point 17 straight points—came in a 132-97 victory over Toronto Thursday night in Game 6 of the first-round series. Here at the Scotiabank Arena.
“We weren’t going back to Philly for Match 7,” James Harden said.
The win moved Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the fourth time in five years, as the 76ers hope to finally break through and reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since then. Allen Iverson He led them there in 2001. Philadelphia started their series in Miami against the top-seeded Heat on Monday night.
He led the 76ers with a balanced attack across the board. Joel Embiidwho played through a ligament tear in his right thumb, finished the game with 33 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes, going 12 to 18 off the field. James Harden He got 22 points, 6 rebounds and 15 assists, and played with the aggression he needed most from 76 players. second year guard Therese Maxi He also had a huge rebounding game, finishing 25 points and eight assists after scoring a combined 23 points in games 4 and 5.
“It’s funny: Our shooting was awful today,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “I called him… They didn’t want to hear us anymore. They had finished training. They had already heard it. They were ready to play. They were locked up.”
This was exactly the kind of performance the 76ers needed – but it was far from certain when that game kicked off just after 7pm on Thursday. After Game Three of the series, when Embiid’s final triple-pointers in overtime gave Philadelphia a 104-101 win here over the Raptors last week to go 3-0 up, it looked as if the 76 players had put their demons to rest. From their heartbreaking loss to Toronto in the semi-finals of the 2019 Eastern Conference.
But things did not turn out that way. A sluggish performance from the 76ers allowed the Toronto to return to the series with a home win in Game 4, followed by dictating the Raptors to play from start to finish in Game 5, leading all but the opening minute as the crowd inside Wells Fargo in Philadelphia the center became tighter and tighter by the second.
That mentality was enough for Toronto to get back into the series and bring it back here in Game Six on Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough to take Toronto to the brink of history.
Instead, it was Philadelphia — who have spent the past three days hearing endless chatter about whether the team, specifically Embiid, Harden and 76ers coach Doc Rivers, would be able to end this streak and reverse past heartbeats — that secured it. It won’t find itself on the wrong end of another disappointing post-season result.
The 76ers did it thanks to an attack attack that left the cheating crowd here dumbfounded at how the game slipped away so quickly.
“Listen, congratulations to them first and foremost,” said Raptors coach Nick Norse. “I thought they were definitely great in three of the games in this series. They were really great.
“They shot it, and they got through it really well in three of the games, and tonight was one of them.”
After Philadelphia’s lead 62-61 at the end of the first half, the 76ers went out to start the third quarter and almost immediately put any thoughts of the series back home into their seventh or death game Saturday night. Scoring his goals in the first eight rounds on the field, the Sixers opened up a 13-point lead before Raptors fans were able to return to their seats after the first-half break.
In the end, the range swelled to a 30-9 stretch on the first 8:08 of the third, capping Harden’s progressive 3 pointer that made it 92-70 in favor of the 76ers, forcing Toronto to call into the second quarter timeout and a hardened roar in celebration.
“He’s just such a hard guy to guard,” said Tobias Harris of Harden. “So when he’s doing all those different moves and helping us get involved and also, you know, just pushing the pace, that’s huge for our group and team.”
For many of the 76 players, Game 6 was a recovery arc – no more than Harden, who came under fire for his play after taking only 11 shots in Game 5, with Embiid himself saying Harden needed to be more aggressive, and that he was on Rivers to make it.
Harden seemed to take that message seriously to start Game 6, throwing a dunk – his second in two games, after not getting one in his first two months as a 76er – as part of perhaps his best quarter in the series, scoring 10 points and making 5 assists. Crucial to help the 76ers bet on a 34-29 lead after another.
“We’ve had chances in the last few games to get rid of them and we haven’t,” Harden said. “So I wanted to go out and be aggressive. Not just score basketball goals, but do the right sprints and get on the field. I knew good things were going to happen.”
The strong attacking pace of both teams to start the match continued throughout the first half, with both teams doing what they wanted offensively and receiving unexpected contributions from across the roster. For Toronto, the big guy was a backup Chris Boucher Having 19 points – the highest in the playoff – and eight rebounds before the break; For Philadelphia, it was Danny Green He hit four three-pointers and scored 12 points in the first half.
Philadelphia hit nearly 58% of its shots in the first half; Toronto was just under 50% and struggled again from a 3-point streak (3 for 15), but has 10 offensive rebounds and a 12-3 advantage in second-chance points.
Most importantly, the 76ers were leading 62-61 – making both teams for what looked like an exciting second half with everything to play for.
Instead, the 76ers went out and made sure to put any talk of history being made in the series.