After giving them a bit of scare on a possible 3-0 comeback that hasn’t been accomplished in NBA history, the Philadelphia 76ers gave nothing but love and respect for the Toronto Raptors.
The Sixers officially closed out their first-round chapter with the North via an empathic 132-97 Thursday victory in Game 6 within the Scotiabank Arena. Behind the inspiring performances of Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, the Raps were overwhelmed upon exerting their efforts to push the series back to Pennsylvania for a decisive match.
As such in post-game, James Harden gave credit to their promising opponent being led by Nick Nurse on the hard-fought, six-game duel.
“That was one of the toughest series that I’ve played in,” claimed by Harden (h/t USA TODAY Sports’ Ky Carlin). “Just because of their switching, their athleticism, their length, they’re throwing different defenses at you, box And-1’s, zones, and just they mess up the game. Credit to Nick Nurse, but they’re a resilient team. They had injuries, guys in and out of the lineups, and just continue to fight, continue to find a way to stay in the game, huge shoutout to them, credit to them for even pushing to a Game 6.”
Amid injuries especially on their star guard in Fred VanVleet, the Raps willed their way and fought until the last buzzer. From the lead roles of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and the brilliance of this season’s Rookie of the Year awardee Scottie Barnes, the series became very much enticing for a probable historic feat – as they pushed a sixth game after being one loss away from a four-game sweep.
Meanwhile, Sixers coach Doc Rivers also gave his acknowledgement on Toronto for keeping the fighting after being down from a commanding series lead of Philly.
“I would like to say congratulations to the Raptors,” Rivers said. “I thought this series made us a better basketball team. We actually needed them in some ways. We are a new team and we’re still growing so with all the switching and all the different things they did, I thought it was really good for our team. I thought it was really something good to go through. We obviously came out winning the series 4-2. It was really good, but we were pushed, and we were pushed because of them and I thought that was great.”
With the series-clinching win, the Sixers will now move on to the East Semifinals, where fellow conference giant Miami Heat are waiting for an epic seven-game showdown.