Facing elimination with a loss, the defending champion Toronto Raptors outlasted the Boston Celtics 125-122 in double overtime in Game 6 on Wednesday.
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series is set for Friday at the NBA bubble in Florida.
Toronto or Boston will face the Miami Heat, who eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks in the other East semifinal series, in the conference finals.
Floor leader Kyle Lowry paced the Raptors with 33 points, Normal Powell had 23 points and Fred VanVleet poured in 21. OG Anouby buried as go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute of the second OT period. Anouby added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
With approximately left in the second OT, Boston’s Marcus Smart missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
The Toronto Raptors were the better team down the stretch. Exhibit A: They made 6 of 7 shots from the floor in the second overtime.
As a result, they haven’t been dethroned … yet.
“Game 7 to go to the Eastern Conference finals,” VanVleet was quoted as saying by The Associated Press after the game. “All you can ask for is a chance.”
In Wednesday’s other action, the Los Angeles Clippers took a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals, winning 96-85. Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 30 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.
Toronto Raptors show mettle
Lowry played 53 minutes in the intense battle. When it was over, the veteran point guard, who provided eight rebounds, six assists and two steals for coach Nick Nurse’s club, reflected on the team’s epic effort.
“I mean, we had to work,” Lowry commented afterward. “Our job is to be out there and play as hard as possible. We’re playing against a physical, tough team, well coached, a couple all-stars and some real-life stars and a great team. We had to work hard for this win and for us … and we play every possession like it’s our last and find ways to pull out victories.”
Powell stepped up in the second OT, scoring 10 points.
Insights on Toronto Raptors leader
After the final buzzer sounded, Powell insisted that Lowry set the tone for the Toronto Raptors’ high-pressure win.
“He’s our leader. We go as he goes,” Powell told reporters. “He did a great job in crunch time keeping us calm and getting us into our sets, making big plays, passes, shots. That’s what K-Low does and we need him to continue to do it.”
Key stretch of the game
The Toronto Raptors were scoreless over the last 4:24 of the fourth quarter. This enabled the Boston Celtics to catch up and extend the game to overtime. But the 2019-20 champions have another shot at extending their season on Friday.
Key question heading into Game 7
Will fatigue be the biggest factor for both teams?
After all, four of five starters on both teams played 50 or more minutes in Game 6, including Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam’s game-high 54.
Top Celtics performers
Jaylen Brown sparked Boston with 31 points and 16 rebounds. Smart notched a triple-double (23 points, 11 boards, and 10 assists). Jayson Tatum finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
“We had a lot of opportunities down the stretch and we didn’t take care of the all as good as we needed to,” Brown said after the loss to the Toronto Raptors. “That’s fine. We’re heading into a Game 7. We feel good about ourselves.”