NBA Weekend Preview: The best two words in sports

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Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) shoots between Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) and forward OG Anunoby (3) during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Half a second. That’s quite literally all it took to get where we are in the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. The Boston Celtics were half a second away from going up 3-0 and putting a stranglehold on the series. Instead, the Celtics blew a coverage, leaving OG Anunoby wide open in the corner to hit the game-winning shot to bring the Raptors back from the dead. 

The Raptors won again in Game 4, and after a Celtics blowout in Game 5, the Raptors gutted out a thrilling (and somewhat controversial) 125-122 double-overtime victory in Game 6. That brings us the always-proclaimed best two words in all of sports: Game 7, which will happen Friday night at 9 p.m. on TNT. 

Any self-respecting basketball fan has to be looking forward to this game. Game 6 was an incredible display of grit, hustle and big-time plays on both sides. If that was only the appetizer, Game 7 is sure to provide a hell of a main course. 

The Celtics looked like they were on their way to running away with the series, but the Raptors clawed back in it. So now, you throw everything else out the window. It’s a winner-take-all Game 7. If you’re the better team on the court for those 48 (or more) minutes, you move on to play the Miami Heat in the conference final. If not, you pack your bags and leave the bubble. So will the Celtics play like they did in the beginning of the series and move on to their third Eastern Conference Final in four seasons? Or will the Raptors show that they still have championship aspirations this year, even without last year’s Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard? We’ll find out tonight at 9 p.m. 

Speaking of Kawhi (great transition, huh?), his Los Angeles Clippers are also looking to book a ticket to the conference finals on Friday night. They will look to finish off the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of their series at 6:30 p.m. on TNT. Other than a slight scare from Denver in Game 2, the Clippers have proven to be the far better team in this series. However, the Nuggets have already come back from one 3-1 deficit in these playoffs, so the Clippers would be wise to eliminate them tonight and not let Jamaal Murray and company gain any momentum. 

The other series happening this weekend is between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets. At the time of writing, the Lakers have a 2-1 lead in the series with two straight convincing wins after a Game 1 blunder. By the time you’re reading this, the Rockets could have made this series very interesting with a win in Game 4. But even if the Lakers won, we know there will be at least one more game Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN. So tune in to see James Harden and the small-ball Rockets try to outpace LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the larger-than-life Lakers in what has been a really fun series so far. 

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