TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors will play an advance-or-be-eliminated contest for the seventh time in franchise history on Sunday when they face the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal at Scotiabank Arena.
Toronto is 3-3 in those games, with one of those losses coming in Philadelphia in the same round 18 years ago.
Five of the six games have been decided by five or fewer points. Here is a look at all six of those series finales:
2001 FIRST ROUND
Raptors 93, New York Knicks 89
The Raptors captured their first series win in franchise history by edging the host Knicks in the final game of a best-of-five series.
Alvin Williams hit the biggest shot, putting the Raptors up six with less than a minute left.
Vince Carter led the Raptors with 27 points.
2001 SECOND ROUND
76ers 88, Raptors 87
Carter’s shot at the buzzer rimmed-out, giving Philadelphia a dramatic win at home.
The shot came hours after Carter attended his college graduation at North Carolina and then flew to Philly for the game.
Sixers star Allen Iverson had 21 points and 16 assists. Carter finished with 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
2002 FIRST ROUND
Detroit Pistons 85, Raptors 82
This will forever be remembered as the game where Raptors guard Chris Childs lost track of the score.
Childs forced up a desperation shot that missed with seven seconds left, thinking the Raptors were down by four instead of three. The Raptors had lots of time to look for a better shot in the final game of the best-of-five series in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Former Raptor Corliss Williamson had 23 points for the Pistons.
Dell Curry led the Raptors with 17 points.
2014 FIRST ROUND
Brooklyn Nets 104, Raptors 103
Many fans say this game was the loudest the then-Air Canada Centre has ever been for basketball.
Kyle Lowry was blocked at the buzzer as he drove to the rim, allowing the Nets to hang on in Game 7.
“The play was to get me the ball, but they did a good job of trapping me, and I didn’t get that shot off that I wanted to get off,” said Lowry.
The series was full of drama. General manager Masai Ujiri dropped a famous F-bomb about Brooklyn at a fan rally before Game 1, ratcheting up the intensity.
The Raptors clawed back from an eight-point deficit after the third quarter of Game 7, but fell just short.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after the team’s first playoff appearance in six years. “Nobody gave them a snowball’s chance in you know where to be here. Each game (in the series), a young player grew and learned something.
“This group has a lot of stuff in front of them, a lot of basketball in front of them, this organization’s in a great spot. They’re going to be good.”
2016 FIRST ROUND
Raptors 89, Indiana Pacers 84
The heavily favoured Raptors finally put away the Pacers in Game 7 in Toronto, giving the franchise just its second playoff series victory in 21 years.
DeMar DeRozan led the way with 30 points, including two key free throws in the dying minutes.
“Got the monkey off our back, more than anything, with these past couple of years. It just feels good to get that off,” he said at the post-game press conference.
“The energy, the moments, a lot of people don’t get those opportunities to be able to play in a Game 7 when everything is the line, and all the things that me and this guy (fellow all-star Lowry, seated next to him) and the team has been through,” he added. “It’s tough to get that moment duplicated, and we just want to live every single minute of it.”
Indiana cut a 16-point deficit to three with less than three minutes left, but the Raptors wouldn’t let it slip away.
“I think everybody wrote the Raptors off and gave us up for dead,” said Casey. “But that locker room is full of fighters and scrappers and guys that are really getting into it now. Like I told them, it’s a marathon, but I’m happy for those young men in there.”
2016 SECOND ROUND
Raptors 116, Miami Heat 89
The Raptors advanced to the Eastern Conference final for the first time in franchise history with a convincing win over the visiting Heat.
Lowry had arguably his best game in a Raptors uniform, finishing with 35 points.
As the clocked ticked down on a historic victory Lowry sat on the bench, his head bowed and draped in a towel.
The Raptors star on the day was lost in thought.
“Just the things that we’d been through this year, and how hard we’ve worked,” Lowry said of the moment. “Just an emotional time, just being able to sit there and relax, and kind of breathe.”
Only 12 days earlier, a struggling Lowry was on the practice court until the early hours of the morning, looking to find his shot.
The Canadian Press