The defending champion Toronto Raptors will live to fight another day. It took 10 extra minutes of game action, but the Raptors were ultimately able to pull out a 125-122 double-overtime win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 on Wednesday night. The Raptors had their backs against the wall heading into the game, but as they have done over and over again, they responded.
Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors as he hit clutch shot after clutch shot to help Toronto keep its season alive. Lowry finished the game with 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, while Norman Powell added 23 points off the bench. The Raptors made some history as they became just the third team in NBA playoff history to force a Game 7 with a multi-OT win. The other two teams to do so were the 1974 Milwaukee Bucks and the 2009 Chicago Bulls.
Jaylen Brown paced the Celtics with 31 points and 16 rebounds in Game 6, and Jayson Tatum added 29 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists of his own. Marcus Smart also recorded his second career triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Ultimately that wasn't enough for Boston, losers of three of the past four games after opening up a 2-0 series advantage, as now both teams will fight for their season in a win-or-go-home Game 7 on Friday night.
Both of these teams gave it their all in Game 6, as both squads had several of their key contributors log over 50 minutes. With that said, it will be interesting to see how much both teams have left in the tank for Game 7. But before we look ahead to Game 7, here's a look at three main takeaways from Game 6:
1. The Raptors' resiliency
It seems like the Raptors have been fighting an uphill battle this whole series. They fell in a 2-0 hole early on only to battle back and tie the series at two games apiece. They then dropped Game 5 to fall behind 3-2 before pulling out a thrilling double OT win in Game 6 to force a deceive Game 7. Their resiliency in this series has been extremely impressive, albeit not entirely surprising, as the Raptors have made a bit of a habit of coming from behind in playoff series over the past couple of years. The Raptors fell behind 2-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semifinals last year, but they ultimately went on to win the series in seven games. Then, they fell behind the Bucks 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals last season before winning four straight games and punching their ticket to the NBA Finals. In other words, Toronto isn't going to give up. If the Celtics are ultimately able to win Game 7 and advance past the Raptors, they will have earned it.
2. Paging Siakam
Following the departure of Kawhi Leonard over the offseason, Pascal Siakam stepped into the role of go-to guy for the Raptors. Siakam averaged career highs across the board and blossomed into an All-Star in Leonard's absence, but All-Stars are expected to step up for their team in the postseason and Siakam didn't go that in Game 6. Siakam played a game-high 54 minutes, but he finished the game with just 12 points on 5 of 19 shooting from the floor. He also missed all five of his 3-point attempts and got to the foul line only four times. Often, when a player is struggling from the floor, he will look to attack the basket in order to draw some fouls and get himself going from the line. Siakam didn't do that. In Game 7, Toronto will need him to be more aggressive and productive if they want to make their second straight trip to the conference finals.
3. Tatum's improving ability as a passer was on display
Since he was drafted in 2017, Jayson Tatum has made his name in the NBA as an elite scorer. However, he has made vast improvements as a passer since he entered the league and his evolving passing ability was on full display in Game 6. Tatum didn't necessarily have his best game from the field on Wednesday night (he was just 9 of 21, even though he still finished with 29 points). The fact that he was consistently double-teamed by Toronto probably factored into his poor percentage. However, even without his shot dropping at its usual high rate, Tatum still found a way to have a major impact on the game -- with his passing. Tatum consistently set up good looks for his teammates over the course of the contest, and he finished with a career-high nine assists as a result.
There were several times throughout the game that Tatum was able to beat an oncoming double team with a quick, precision pass, like this one to Daniel Theis in the third quarter:
Tatum's growing ability as a passer, and his increasing level of comfort in that role is a great sign for the Celtics, but a scary sight for the rest of the league.