Couple of key games for teams on the brink of elimination from the NBA playoffs, both of whom were able to force a Game 7 on the road. Lets start on the East coast.
Philadelphia 76ers (3-3) vs Toronto Raptors (3-3): 112 to 101
If the Jamal Murray rule applies for Denver (THE RULE LIVES), then we need to find out the specifics of what the Simmons rule is. Perhaps it’s more of an eye test thing, but when Simmons is engaged, this Sixer team is very scary.
Simmons finished with 21, 8 and 6 and looked far more engaged than in other games in the series. He was pushing the tempo and creating opportunities early, which really opened up the game for Jimmy Butler, who had his best performance as a 76er this post season.
Jimmy was in peak Jimmy form, playing the way Philly intended him to play when they traded Saric and Covington for him. The 25 point, 6 rebound and 8 assist stat line is a nice one, but Jimmy’s impact on the game was bigger than the statistical evidence.
Butler appeared to be more connected with the Philly crowd, who were thirsty for something to get behind in this game. In a brutal sports town like Philly, a peak Jimmy Butler with fist pumping, screaming and crowd appealing is a perfect fit for the cities rabid fan base.
If Philly can match the energy they had in Game 6, as well continue to make life difficult for Kawhi to be efficient offensively, Philly may be able to take this series.
Next Game @ Raptors: Monday (13/5) at 9am AEST
Portland Trailblazers (3-3) vs Denver Nuggets (3-3): 119 to 108
Quick Murray Rule update: It’s still undefeated. Although Murray ticked off the requirement of having over 20 points, he did so only shooting 7/20 from the field, far below the target 45% needed for a Denver win.
With that out of the way, kudos to Jokic for once again being the Nuggets big workhorse and keeping it close, posting 29 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists on 10/15 shooting.
But Denver didn’t really have a shot today. When Lillard (32), McCollum (30) and Rodney Hood (25) combine for 87 points on 31/59 shooting, it’s hard to beat the Blazers.
Maybe you can survive 30 point nights from the Blazers backcourt, as they generate most of the Blazers offence anyway. But if you also allow someone like Hood to open things up and contribute so heavily on offence, it’s hard to get the W.
It will be one of the more intriguing Game 7 matchups in sometime, as these teams appear to be more consistently evenly matched than the Sixers and Raptors. Lillard is a great clutch player as we know, but Denver has already won a huge game 7 this postseason against an experienced Spurs team.
Both teams have plenty of reason to feel confident heading into Game 7 and it should be a close, entertaining battle to see who gets to play for the Western Conference against whichever battered team comes out of Golden State/Houston.
Next Game @ Nuggets: Sunday (12/5), time TBA after Rockets and Warriors Game 6.
If Warriors win the game is at 5:30am AEST and if the Rockets win the game is at 11:30am AEST.