The Sixers are in a win-or-go-home situation against the Toronto Raptors.
Our writers predict the winner of the decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
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I’m picking the Raptors because I’m told I have to pick someone, but really this game is going to come down to who makes their shots, and that has been impossible to predict on a game-to-game basis thus far. If the Sixers get the version of Joel Embiid that they got in Game 3, it would go a long way toward canceling out Kawhi Leonard. There’s a good chance the game is decided by who has a better night from three-point range, Tobias Harris or Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.
Prediction: Raptors 105, Sixers 101
As much as I keep trying to talk myself into picking the Sixers, my mind keeps telling me that the Raptors will pull this thing out. They’re at home and have more Game 7 experience and Kawhi Leonard. The All-Star small forward has proven to be unstoppable in this series, especially in the clutch. The 27-year-old has scored 45, 35, 33, 21 and 29 points in this series. Expect him to put on another show and be the difference.
Prediction: Raptors 108, Sixers 103
This series has played out in a way that makes an accurate prediction nearly impossible. I don’t think anyone knows what is going to happen. I originally picked the Raptors to win in six games, so the Sixers deserve credit. They have not gone away. But that doesn’t make this series any less confusing. It started out with a bit of a blowout, followed by a close game, followed by blowout, followed by a close game, then two consecutive blowouts. Now, here we are all tied for Game 7. I think the Sixers showed something different in Game 6 in that they fought with their backs against the wall. If they can play with that same urgency in Game 7, the Sixers will be heading to Milwaukee.
Prediction: Sixers 108, Raptors 99
It may not be the best way to pick a winner, but since the pre-series prediction was Toronto in seven games, it’s tough to go against it now. That said, if the Sixers play the way they did in Thursday’s 112-101 win, they could beat anybody, including the Golden State Warriors with a healthy Kevin Durant. Yet this has been a series with so many swings. The Sixers talked after Game 6 about how much they benefited from the home crowd. Now, it’s the Raptors’ turn to earn a similar advantage.
Prediction: Raptors 108, Sixers 104
Late in the first half of Game 6, it became clear that this Eastern Conference semifinal had reached an interesting and thrilling stage: The Sixers couldn’t afford to have Joel Embiid on the bench, and the Raptors couldn’t afford to have Kawhi Leonard on the bench. That’s where we are on Sunday night, at an impasse in a basketball-superstar version of mutually assured destruction. Maybe if neither Embiid nor Leonard rests during Game 7, the series will continue into perpetuity or until one of them collapses from exhaustion. History suggests Embiid will hit the deck first.
Prediction: Raptors 106, Sixers 102
Regrettably, I think the Raptors will win Game 7. The Sixers have not shown throughout this series the consistency necessary to win a deciding game on the road. I would like to be wrong, but there are too many things that have to break their way. Joel Embiid can change that calculus, but that’s asking a lot of one player. Overall, the Sixers defense has not been good enough, and teams playing on their home court tend to get the bounces and the calls to accentuate that advantage. I see a close game, but not one that will bounce to the Sixers. They are very, very close, but the Raptors, because of Kawhi Leonard, are closer.
Prediction: Raptors 105, Sixers 99
When Joel Embiid is healthy and engaged, no team in the Eastern Conference can beat the Sixers in a seven-game series. It is, however, the Sixers’ misfortune that Embiid usually is not healthy and occasionally is not engaged.The latter also is true of Ben Simmons. Both played indifferently in Games 4 and 5. Both were roundly criticized. They might deny this, but both heard every syllable of criticism. Shamed, each played heroically in Game 6. They are nothing if not proud, so expect the same degree of heroism in the first Game 7 their careers Sunday.