The Toronto Raptors are attempting to rewrite their franchise history today.
A victory over Miami in Sunday’s do-or-die Game 7 will put the Raptors into the NBA’s Eastern Conference final for the first time in the team’s 21 years.
The Heat forced a Game 7 with a 103-91 victory in Miami on Friday night.
The Raptors also needed seven games to dispatch the Indiana Pacers in the opening round. The big difference in that series was the pressure hung thick over the team. The Raptors hadn’t advanced to the second round in 15 years.
“Games 7s are fun,” said Dwane Casey.
“I think this Game 7 will be different than the last Game 7. I think our guys understand that. Going through the Indiana series helped them tremendously as far as getting through that.”
The matchup marks the third Game 7 in three seasons for Toronto, who lost a heartbreaker to Brooklyn in the opening round in 2014, on a blocked Kyle Lowry shot at the buzzer.
“This one Sunday will be ‘Just go out there and hoop,”’ said Lowry.
Casey credited the raucous Air Canada Centre crowd for pulling his dog-tired players through Game 7 against Indiana. He hopes for more of the same Sunday.
“It’s going to be huge,” Casey said. “There’s nothing like having your fans behind you in a Game 7, when things kind of get down, they push you through, you know that they’re cheering for you through thick and thin. We have one of the loudest arenas in the league, to go at the other team and build you up when you get tired, and fatigue sets in.”
A well-rested Cleveland team awaits the winner. The Cavaliers, who swept both Detroit and Atlanta in their first two series, host Game 1 on Tuesday night after a nine-day break.