Kawhi Leonard‘s buzzer-beating shot over the reach of Joel Embiid gave the Raptors a 92-90 victory against the 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on their way to winning the NBA championship.
Both teams, however, are contending again for supremacy in the Eastern Conference with 11 wins each.
The teams are coming off contrasting victories on Saturday. The 76ers defeated the Heat 113-86 at home led by 32 points from Josh Richardson in a rout.
Embiid added 23 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who have won four straight games and are 7-0 at home. The Raptors are 6-0 at home.
Richardson, who played four seasons with the Heat before going to the 76ers, was 11-for-15 in shooting and 6-for-7 on 3-pointers Saturday after missing two games with right hip flexor tightness.
“I saw my first couple of shots go through and I was staying aggressive, finding the spots and the big guys did a great job of getting me open on screens,” Richardson said. “I was able to create for myself and other guys off the screens.”
Furkan Korkmaz, who replaced Richardson in the starting lineup the past two games, was out Saturday with a left ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated before the game against Toronto.
The Raptors were 3-1 against the 76ers during the last regular season, including both games in Toronto. The Raptors have won 13 home games in a row during the regular season against the 76ers.
The teams last played in the regular season Feb. 5 when Toronto won 119-107 at Philadelphia.
The Raptors could have forward Serge Ibaka back in the lineup Monday. He has missed seven games with a sprained right ankle. Guard Kyle Lowry also has missed seven games with a fractured left thumb, but he is still about a week from a return.
In Atlanta, the Raptors led by 11 points with 1:38 left in the game, but the Hawks trimmed to lead to two before Toronto went 3-of-4 free in free throws.
Fred VanVleet added 25 points for the Raptors.
“I was expecting a tough game from them and they gave it to us,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We weren’t real good. I thought we were kind of thinking maybe it was going to be a little easier than you do in a normal NBA game, which is a mistake. I thought we played one-on-one early and didn’t hustle back on (defense) early and didn’t execute our schemes. We were kind of chasing it.”
The injuries to Ibaka and Lowry have provided a chance for young players like Chris Boucher and Terence Davis II to excel.
“The whole process, it’s awesome,” Raptors center Marc Gasol told the Toronto Sun. “It’s a great process to be part of and being able to help them is great.”
–Field Level Media