For the first time this season, the Toronto Raptors are a game away from surrendering their championship crown. After falling 111-89 in Game 5 of their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, they trail 3-2 and need a win to avoid elimination. Finding one won’t be easy. While the best Celtics have thrived in this matchup, Toronto All-Star Pascal Siakam has been held to only 15.8 points per game in this matchup by the suffocating Boston defense. 

The Raptors are running out of time to get their best player, and their offense as a whole, back on track. Their season is on the line in this matchup, and if they don’t respond accordingly, Boston will advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Here’s everything you need to know about Wednesday’s Game 6. 

Viewing information

  • Date: Wednesday, Sept. 9 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Disney Wide World of Sports — Orlando, Florida
  • TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
  • Odds: Celtics -2.5 | Over/Under: 210 (via William Hill Sportsbook)

Storylines

Celtics: This is a position that this Boston team has never really been in. Kemba Walker is playing in his first-ever second round. The Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown duo has either won or lost all of their other playoff series handily … with one exception. They lost to LeBron James in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals. These situations aren’t identical, but there’s a similar narrative thread. The Celtics have a former champion against the ropes despite their own inexperience. They couldn’t deliver the finishing blow to LeBron. Will they be able to do so against the Raptors? Based on their control of the series to this point and Tatum’s ascent, it seems likely, but you never know how a team with so little closeout experience will respond to the moment. We’ll know after this one. 

Raptors: Can the Raptors find a shred of offense beyond bombing 3-pointers? Sometimes, it really is this simple. Toronto is 33 of 120 from behind the arc in its three losses (27.5 percent), but 33 of 84 in its wins (35.7 percent). Whenever a Raptor finds any sort of groove, Brad Stevens sics Marcus Smart on them. First it was Pascal Siakam, then it was Kyle Lowry (who was held to 5 of 16 from the field in Game 4). Siakam has struggled all series as Toronto’s top option, but the Raptors just don’t have a viable half-court alternative. If Nick Nurse hasn’t been able to find an alternative across five games, what will make Game 6 any different?

Prediction

It took one of the greatest buzzer-beaters in NBA history and an unsustainable shooting outburst to get the Raptors their two wins. They fought admirably for five games. But the more sustainable portions of this series have belonged inarguably to the Celtics. Even without Gordon Hayward, they have been the better team, and they’ll finish the Raptors off on Wednesday. Pick: Celtics -2.5

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