Raptors fend off Celtics in double-overtime thriller to force Game 7

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Raptors fend off Celtics in double-overtime thriller to force Game 7

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What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina discusses how mental health and the stresses of being inside the NBA bubble has become an issue players are talking about as the playoffs press on.

USA TODAY

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Toronto coach Nick Nurse’s bicycle rides around the Disney campus continue for at least two more days. Same for Boston coach Brad Stevens’ daily walks.

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.

🚨 INSTANT CLASSIC 🚨

👀 the TOP PLAYS from 2OT as the defending champion @Raptors top Boston in an incredible, thrilling finish to FORCE GAME 7! #NBAPlayoffs

Game 7: Friday at 9:00pm/et on TNT pic.twitter.com/N9nYaIrgcf

— NBA (@NBA) September 10, 2020

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.

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.

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 Fred 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.

Powell had 23 points, and Serge Ibaka had 13 off the bench.

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.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

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