As TSN and Sportsnet continue to air every Raptors game from last year's road to the NBA title, we'll be featuring game recaps and other written content to transport you back in time for a complete experience of reliving the most memorable stretch of basketball in Toronto's history.
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This story was originally published on May 12, 2019.
Game 7 it is.
The Toronto Raptors had a chance to punch their ticket to the next round, but the Philadelphia 76ers cruised to a 112-101 victory in Game 6 behind dominant performances from Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid.
Simmons and Butler each scored 20 points in the win and Embiid controlled both ends of the court with 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. The Raptors, meanwhile, got 29 points out of Kawhi Leonard and 21 points out of Pascal Siakam but not much from anyone else.
That sets the stage for a Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday, with the Milwaukee Bucks waiting for the winner in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Here are four things to watch in what should be a hard-fought game between the Raptors and 76ers...
Philadelphia's offensive rebounding
The 76ers punished the Raptors on the offensive glass in Game 6. They had 16 offensive rebounds in total, but five of them came in the first quarter, which helped them set the tone for the game.
Simmons benefited the most from those second chance opportunities. Three of his four his baskets in the opening quarter came following an offensive rebound, including the one in the closing seconds that put the 76ers ahead 29-21.
"We had a couple of good defensive possessions and his big arm and hand came up there and tipped them in," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said of Simmons after the game.
"Those are tough when you've had a good defensive possession and they stick in a high percentage tip-in."
The 76ers finished the game with 18 second chance points compared to nine for the Raptors. It's the most they've had in a game this series, their previous high coming in Game 3, when they scored 15 second chance points off of nine offensive rebounds.
That hurt the Raptors in a number of ways, one being that it limited their transition opportunities.
In Game 5, for example, Toronto kept Philadelphia to five offensive rebounds and scored 33 points in transition. In Game 6, the Raptors gave up 16 offensive rebounds and scored only 11 points in transition, the latter being their lowest total yet in this series.
To keep their season alive, the Raptors can't afford to lose the battle on the boards and in transition again.
Toronto's 3-point shooting
The Raptors were ice cold from the 3-point line in Game 6, missing 27 of their 36 attempts.
The majority of those attempts were wide open, too - 25 to be exact, per NBA.com, of which they made only seven.
The problem isn't just that the Raptors weren't able to capitalize on those opportunities. It's that the 76ers were able to take advantage of those misses - as well as the 12 turnovers they committed - by pushing the pace and attacking the Raptors while they were scrambled.
"We just missed so many shots early and they were just playing off the rebound so often," Nurse said post-game. "They were getting them off the rebound and pushing it out on us.
"We were not doing a great job in transition and when we did, we ended up cross-matched a little bit and they made us pay for those."
It's another way in which Simmons was able to get himself going after not being much of a factor offensively in Games 2 through 5. Simmons made more of an effort to get out in transition, where he was among the league leaders in scoring this season.
And when he wasn't scoring in transition in Game 6, Simmons was collapsing the defence and setting his teammates with high percentage looks.
Simmons finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers. It was only the second time in these playoffs that he's scored 20 or more points and only the second time that hasn't committed a single turnover.
When Simmons does both of those things - provide a scoring punch and take care of the ball - the 76ers have proven to be a tough team to beat.
The Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid matchup
It's clear the 76ers aren't worried about Siakam shooting 3-pointers, even wide open ones. It's an adjustment they made after Game 1 by putting Embiid on him instead of Tobias Harris.
Siakam is still averaging 20.8 points per game, but he hasn't been nearly as effective since Game 1. According to NBA.com, he is 5-for-22 from the 3-point line and 17-for-49 overall with Embiid as his primary defender in this series.
By not being much of a threat from the perimeter, it's allowed Embiid to sag way off of him and clog the paint, making life difficult for Siakam and his teammates whenever they make a move towards the basket.
That's had a tremendous impact on the Raptors offensively. With Siakam on the court and Embiid on the bench, they're scoring at a rate of 122.0 points per 100 possessions through six games. With both of them on the floor, that number falls to 94.9.
"Pascal had some really good looks tonight and missed some open 3s with [Embiid] going to help," Kyle Lowry said after Game 6. "When he's out there, he's a big body, he's a force on both ends. We notice when he's out there and when he's not."
The Raptors have made an effort to get Embiid moving more in the halfcourt as the series has progressed by involving in Siakam in more actions, such as handoffs and pick-and-rolls with him being the one setting screens.
They might need to do a lot more of that in Game 7 if the 76ers are going to play Embiid more than his usual 32 minutes.
The other Raptors
It was something to watch heading into Game 6, but for very different reasons.
For the first time in this series, Leonard got a lot of help from his teammates in Game 5, with them combining to score 104 of the team's 124 points.
Prior to that game, their series-high was 63, set back in Game 1.
Non-Kawhi Raptors this series.- Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 8, 2019
Game 1: 63 points, 25-56 FG (45%).
Game 2: 54 points, 20-66 FG (30%).
Game 3: 62 points, 22-61 FG (36%).
Game 4: 62 points, 22-56 FG (39%).
Game 5: 104 points, 33-66 FG (50%).
In Game 6, the "non-Kawhi Raptors" combined for 72 points, but the bulk of that scoring came in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach. Through three quarters of play, Siakam was the only other Raptors in double figures. Everyone else had 24 points on 8-for-27 shooting from the field.
Marc Gasol struggled the most, going scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point range.
With the way the 76ers are defending both Leonard and Siakam, the Raptors are likely going to need one of Lowry, Gasol, Danny Green or Serge Ibaka to step up in Game 7.
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