All because OG Anunoby’s 3-pointer with 57.5 seconds left, Norman Powell’s three-point play with 38.8 seconds remaining and Kyle Lowry’s jump shot with 11.7 seconds propelled the Raptors to a 125-122 double-overtime victory over the Celtics in Game 6 on Wednesday.
Both teams traded big shots down the stretch in the second OT. Boston’s Jayson Tatum cut Toronto’s lead to 123-122 with 3-pointer. Powell’s two free throws accounted for the final score, and Boston’s last-second 3-point heave by Marcus Smart hit the rim but didn’t go in.
Toronto relied on its veteran poise and the leadership of Lowry to extend their season. Lowry had a team-high 33 points, including 15 in the first half and nine in the fourth quarter.
Game 7 is Friday, and the winner will play the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Everybody came in expecting a long series,” Toronto’s Fred VanVleet said. “I don’t think we lived up to that in the first couple of games. But we were able to work ourselves in position to give us a chance. Game 7 to go the Eastern Conference Finals. All you can ask for us is a chance.”
The Raptors are trying to advance to the conference finals for the second consecutive season, and the Celtics are trying to get there for the third time in four seasons.
If you appreciate playoff basketball in all its rugged, well-coached but offensively challenged, aesthetically appealing toil, then this series — and Game 7 — is for you.
“Clearly, it was a hard-played, tough game and could’ve gone either way,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens, adding, “They were really playing hard. We really playing hard. Great basketball game. We’ll look at what we can clean up, but right now, throw some ice on your legs and get ready for Friday.”
Both teams make the offense work for points with intense defense. Not much comes easy for either team on the offensive side of the floor.
But the defending-champion Raptors had just enough offense, especially in the second half when the 3-point shooting percentage for both teams increased.
Toronto’s VanVleet had 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Anunoby had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Pascal Siakam fought through offensive struggles to contribute 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Serge Ibaka had 13 off the bench.
Powell’s 23 points, including 10 in the second overtime, prevented Boston from ending the Raptors’ season.
“He saved us. He saved our season,” VanVleet said. “That’s his trademark now. You never know when it’s going to happen, but it always happens at some point in the playoffs. He was huge for us. Obviously, Kyle was steady the whole night. But Norm really gave us a boost. … He gave us that spark we needed to get over the hump. The more minutes he plays, the better plays.”
Brown scored a team-high 31 points for Boston, taking a career-high 30 shots. Jayson Tatum scored 29 points and Smart added 23, but the Celtics got just five points from All-Star Kemba Walker, who shot just 2-for-11 from the field.