Another series, another Game 7, and finally a Game 7 thriller that went down to the final possession.
Even though the basketball community was treated to a fantastic day of hoops in the form of win or go home Game 7s on Saturday, none of the three contests went down to the final possession. Well, Toronto-Brooklyn altered that trend in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader of Game 7 action.
In a game that the Brooklyn Nets led for nearly the entire way, the Raptors used a late push after trailing by 9 points with just over 3 minutes left on the clock to get within one point and have possession of the ball with approximately six seconds remaining.
For the final few possessions of the game, the Raptors were able to get to the rim easily to drop their deficit from three points to one point. Deron Williams made one of two free throws and Shaun Livingston made two of two to hold Toronto at bay. After again pulling to within one point with just over eight seconds left, Terrance Ross stole Livingston’s in-bounds pass intended for Paul Pierce, setting up the Raptors’ chance to win.
After getting to the basket easily in the possessions prior, the Nets were able to prepare for a drive by one of the Raptors’ guards with the lead being just one point. There was little fear of a three-pointer being launched, and the Raptors were simply too predictable out of the timeout.
Brooklyn played Kyle Lowry perfectly, forcing him directly into a triple-team in the paint. Kevin Garnett reached in and stripped the ball away, but Lowry was able to get it back. He went up quickly to try and beat the buzzer, but Pierce did a fantastic job of stepping up and holding his ground while swatting the shot away right as it left Lowry’s hand.
There was body contact and a foul call would not have been outrageous, but it would have been a borderline whistle and since the block was clean, body contact from a straight up-and-down defender in the paint at the buzzer wasn’t going to draw free throws.
It was a great series, and if you had told the Nets’ brass and their fans in the preseason that they would be scrounging to come away with a Game 7 victory in the first round, on the road, against the Toronto Raptors, they would have laughed. The Nets were supposed to be not too far behind the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers as Eastern Conference royalty, but with the way things started back in November, this victory was certainly impressive.
The Raptors are a good team, and with a fantastic new general manager in Masai Ujiri, they should be in the picture in the East for quite some time. Great series, and it will be fun to see the Nets (and Garnett and Pierce especially), who swept Miami in the regular season, take on the Heat with a Conference Finals berth on the line.