ORLANDO (Florida) • With their season on the brink and National Basketball Association title repeat hopes in jeopardy, the Toronto Raptors outfought the Boston Celtics for a dramatic series-tying 125-122 double-overtime win on Wednesday.
The result ensured their Eastern Conference semi-final play-off series will go to a Game 7.
Kyle Lowry led the champions with 33 points and Norman Powell added 23 off the bench in an emotional thriller that resembled the intensity of a heavyweight boxing match-up.
“We play every possession like it’s our last and find ways to pull out victories,” an exhausted Lowry said after playing 53 minutes.
“That was two hard teams playing hard. Win or go home. Get it done. Don’t matter who has to do it. Ready for Game 7.”
Boston got to within a point with 6.2 seconds remaining, but Powell sank two free throws and Marcus Smart missed a buzzer-beater from long range. But Jaylen Brown, who paced his team with 31 points, felt they would bounce back today.
Said the Celtics forward: “We didn’t play as poised as we needed to down the stretch. We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we needed to. We had some turnovers that just killed us. Got to embrace the challenge. This is what adversity is about. We have to give everything for Game 7.”
In the West, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Denver 96-85 to seize a 3-1 edge over the Nuggets, giving them the chance to advance to the Conference Finals with a victory today.
While Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard just missed his first career play-off triple-double, he sparked his team with 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The Clippers have never reached the West Finals since the franchise was founded in 1970, but are on the verge of ending 50 years of futility.
Leonard later called on his teammates to “have the mindset of playing every possession” if they are to close out their series today.