KYLE Lowry was talking in Toronto on Saturday, discussing any number of topics, offering eloquent answers to every question that came his way. His last sentence was all that really needed to be said.
“Nothing matters,” the Raptors guard said, “but Game 7.”
There may be nothing better in sports than a Game 7 – and the second round of these NBA playoffs ends Sunday with a pair of deciders: third-seeded Philadelphia at second-seeded Toronto in an Eastern Conference semifinal; third-seeded Portland at second-seeded Denver in a Western Conference semifinal.
The Portland-Denver winner will visit top-seeded Golden State in Game 1 of the West finals Tuesday. The Philadelphia-Toronto winner goes to top-seeded Milwaukee for Game 1 of the East finals Wednesday.
“I’ve been fortunate to be in a few Game 7s and they’re very unique,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “They’re special. They are a life lesson, a life opportunity.”
There have been 133 Game 7s in NBA history – home teams have won 105, or 79%. Roughly one of every four Game 7s has been decided by three points or less; 56% have been decided by a single-digit margin. Blowouts are rare, with only 14 Game 7s getting decided by more than 20 points.
“It’s for our season, for all the marbles,” Portland guard Damian Lillard said.
Denver has already won a Game 7 this season, also at home, topping San Antonio in the first round. Nikola Jokic had a triple-double – 21 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists – in that game for the Nuggets, and coach Michael Malone is fond of saying his team has the best home-court advantage in the NBA.
But Jokic isn’t banking on home court being enough of an edge. He says it’s imperative to bring more energy Sunday – and adds there’s no reason to get nervous.
“I’ve played basketball for 15 years,” Jokic said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life. Why would I be nervous right now? … You control the game. You’re the one who’s playing. As long as you’re giving 100 percent, you can’t be nervous because you’re focused on the plays and actions and whatever you’re doing on the floor. You don’t have time to be nervous.” (AP)