Posted on May 10, 2019, by Travis Pulver
The Philadelphia 76ers have had some moments during their series with the Toronto Raptors. However, with how poorly they played in Game Five, there was not much reason to believe that they would survive Game Six and force a Game Seven.
But thanks to a strong game by Jimmy Butler Thursday night, that is precisely what they were able to do.
“I play to win,” Butler said after the game, via ESPN. “Right now, this is what I have to do in order to give us a great chance at winning.”
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Butler led the way for the 76ers with 25 points, eight assist, and six rebounds but he did get a lot of help from the rest of the team. Five other players, including the rest of the starting five, scored in double digits. Ben Simmons had his best game of the series with 21 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
While it wasn’t a great game for Joel Embiid, he woke up enough in the third quarter to score ten points (3-5 shooting), pull down six rebounds, and block two shots. He ended the night with a double-double, 17 points and 12 rebounds.
“Coming in, knowing that this was a do-or-die situation,” Embiid said after the game, “I knew that I had to come in with high spirits. … That’s what I got to keep on doing — do the little things, and everything’s going to follow.”
The 76ers made it clear they were not going to make it easy for the Raptors from the start and got out to a 29-21 lead after the first. They pushed the lead out to 19-points early in the second, saw it shrink down to seven points, but then pushed it back out to 15 by halftime, 58-43.
Philadelphia kept up the pressure in the third quarter and pushed the lead out to 20-points by the end of the quarter. Once they pushed the lead out to 23-points with five minutes to go, they began to take their foot off the gas and let the Raptors close the gap to 11-points in the end, 112-101.
Kawhi Leonard still had 29-points on the night, but much of it came in the fourth quarter when the 76ers had the game well in hand. Pascal Siakam had a decent night with 21 points, but what hurt was the night the rest of the starting five had. Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Danny Green combined for just 28 points and shot a collective 10-27 from the field.
Take away the third quarter and the Raptors still did a good job of containing Joel Embiid (2-9 outside of the third quarter). If the 76ers are going to win Game Seven, they need to get a complete game out of him. Toronto will likely not let Ben Simmons score 21 points again and the 76ers shouldn’t expect more than 25 out of Butler.
Game Seven will be played in Toronto on Sunday. The Raptors are favored by six.