How can the Raptors Win Game 7, Book Trip to the Conference Finals
The Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers series has had just about everything except for a quadruple overtime finish.
The Raptors have been blown out, the Sixers have been blown out, there have been a tight finish going one way and a tight finish going the other way. One team has won on the road and so has the other. Philadelphia stars Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris have all been called out over the past week and so too has Raptors star Kyle Lowry.
Point is, almost everything imaginable has already happened in this unpredictable best of seven series.
So what’s left?
Game 7 at Scotiabank Arena. This is what the Raptors have played for all year – to have series culminating games on their home court. The friendly confines of the 6ix where the Raptors boasted a 32-9 mark during the regular season.
🏀 SERIES RECAP THREAD 🏀
Before the @sixers and @Raptors face off in GAME 7 tomorrow (7pm/et, TNT), relive the BEST from each game this series… starting with Toronto's Game 1 victory! #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/qZgobeTsjN
— NBA (@NBA) May 11, 2019
But that being said, everything goes out the window for a win-or-go-home Game 7, and there are five steps that the Raptors will have to execute on Sunday night in order to beat the Sixers and advance to the Conference Finals to face the scorching hot Milwaukee Bucks.
5. Keep the Crowd in the Game
In Game 6, the crowd was behind the Sixers from opening tip, exploding with each put back dunk and big three. As the crowd noise elevated, the Raptors tensed up and seemed to melt as the Sixers picked up the intensity.
Game 7, the Raptors are on their home turf and must come out as the more aggressive team, pushing the tempo and hitting their shots. The key is to make the opposition as uncomfortable as possible in enemy territory and it starts with the blaring crowd noise immediately at tip off.
4. Matchup Gasol with Embiid
The second the Raptors took out Marc Gasol when Embiid checked into the game, the Sixers went on a big 10-0 run, putting together a lead that they would not give up.
So with this in mind, the solution is quite simple. Gasol must be in the ball game whenever Embiid is on the court. The Raptors must size up with the much bigger Sixers team outmuscle them in the post. Offensively, Embiid will give Gasol all the time and space he needs to shoot open three points. Gasol must capitalize and shoot at a much better clip than he did in Game 6.
3. Close out on Shooters
Don’t give up the long ball.
In Game 5, the Raptors did a great job at closing out on Philly’s shooters, running JJ Redick, James Ennis, Mike Scott, and even Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler off the line. Three pointers have the ability to turn into big momentum shifters and the Raptors must do a good job at reverting to the style of gritty defense they played in the games they won.
2. Win Battle on the Glass
The Sixers have won 149-105 on the glass in games they came out victorious, but have been 127-125 in games they have lost, including 37-42 in Game 5.
The Sixers feed off second chance points and the Raptors struggle to regroup when the Sixers pick up an offensive board. The Raptors must outmuscle the Sixers on the glass in Game 7 to not only limit second chance opportunities, but to essentially limit Simmons on the offensive end completely.
1. Aggressive Lowry
The winner of the first quarter has won each game in this series and the Raptors win the first quarter and win games when Lowry comes out aggressive, pushing the tempo, making big threes, taking clutch charges, and distributing the ball to the open man. A confident and aggressive Lowry gives confidence to the rest of the team.
The team must make shots to win this game and they need the real Playoff Lowry to get the basketball and put them in a position to succeed.