The Toronto Raptors will be looking to clinch a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 6 of the conference semifinals on Thursday.
The Sixers, conversely, will be attempting to stave off elimination and force Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto.
Pascal Siakam had 25 points and eight rebounds despite playing with a sore right calf while Kawhi Leonard added 21 points and 13 rebounds in Game 5 as Toronto took a 3-2 series edge. Danny Green scored 17 points in a balanced effort as the Raptors crushed the Sixers 125-89 in Philadelphia.
Toronto head coach Nick Nurse had talked about finding consistency throughout the roster. As a result, the Raptors are on the verge of clinching the series.
“We needed for everyone to play well,” point guard Kyle Lowry told the Toronto Star.
“Not individually, but just more of a team, well-rounded game, when everyone played well, everyone played together, everyone worked. We felt good about ourselves. Everybody did. You know what I mean? Not, I did it. We did it. That’s the thing about it that was good for us.
“I don’t think we had a game like this in a while. … We needed that type of win, just for our team.”
Siakam’s output was surprising considering the severity of his injury. While Siakam did play in Game 4, he was clearly hampered.
Siakam remains probable for Game 6.
“It’s my calf, and it’s my hamstring, so it’s both combined,” Siakam told reporters. “The staff is doing a great job to make sure that I get treatment, keep icing and keep taking care of it. It’s going to need some rest, but we don’t have time, so I just have to do my best to make sure when game time comes I’m ready.”
The Sixers will enter Game Six with some huge question marks.
Philadelphia’s franchise cornerstone, Joel Embiid, played one of his poorest games of the season with 13 points, six rebounds and eight costly turnovers. Embiid has been bothered by a sore left knee and an upper respiratory infection.
Embiid was visibly ill on the bench.
“Like I said before, we’re going to ride or die with big fella,” Sixers guard Jimmy Butler told reporters about Embiid.
“Everybody around this locker room knows that, everybody in the world should know it, the fans should know it. We’ll be just fine, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, encouraging him to keep battling through all injury, through all sickness and we’re here with him.”
Embiid will likely be listed as probable once again for Game 6.
Philadelphia’s other young star, Ben Simmons, also struggled mightily in Game 5 with seven points, seven rebounds and five turnovers. Butler scored a team-high 22 points, but it was lost in the 36-point defeat.
The loss in Game 5 was ugly, but the Sixers are still alive with a chance to even the series.
“We’re excited to go back to Philadelphia,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “Nobody’s walking out of here woe-is-me. I promise you that. We have a prideful team.”
Added Butler: “We just got to do what we’re supposed to go home for. That’s it. Keep competing, play hard, stick together. We win together, lose together, and we’re going to play together (until) the end.”