The GIST: The Toronto Raptors are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in franchise history after beating the Philadelphia 76ers 92–90 in last night’s Game 7. Happy Monday, indeed!
The win was epic: ICYMI, it was a thrilling, back-and-forth game. But the win all came down to one unbelievable moment. A dramatic buzzer-beater that you MUST watch for yourself. Kawhi, if you’re reading this, we love you.
Kawhi scored 41 points, point guard Kyle Lowry brought the energy, playing unbelievable defence, and big-man Serge Ibaka made some massive plays under the basket.
The bigger picture:Raptors presidentMasai Ujiriwent all in on this year’s team, taking major risks by firing beloved coachDwane Caseyand trading fan-favoriteDeMar DeRozan. Well, Masai, you can take a deep breath now. Your risks were worth it.
And, maybe more importantly, our neighbours to the south will start taking Toronto (and Canada) basketball more seriously. Out of an 82-game season, only 27 Raps games were televised on U.S. networks. So we’re loving the fact that the Raps will finally get the attention they deserve.
What’s next?:The Raps will be facing the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks finished first in the Eastern Conference and were the best regular season team this season, so they have home court advantage. They’ve also had some rest, as they made quick work of the Boston Celtics in five games.
This series is not going to be easy. Of the four games the Raps and the Bucks played this season, the Bucks won three.
The biggest weapon on the Bucks? Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced Yonnis Abedo-Koonbo), aka “The Greek Freak.” Giannis is one of the best players in the NBA. The 24-year-old plays solid defence, hits difficult shots and can slam dunklike nobody’s business.
What’s going on in the west?:After beating the Houston Rockets in six games, the Golden State Warriors are heading to the Western Conference Finals for the fifth consecutive year. They’ll be playing the Portland Trail Blazers, who beat the Denver Nuggets 100–96 in Game 7 yesterday night.
These two teams couldn’t be more different. While the Warriors have won three championships in four years, it’s the Trail Blazers’ first conference final since 2000.
A major key to Portland’s postseason success is big man Enes Kanter. Kanter has been playing while observing Ramadan for the first time during a playoff run. Those observing Ramadan fast from sunrise until sunset to commemorate the month that God began to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammed. Learn more about Kanter’s unique and inspirational playoff experience here.