Kyle Lowry is obviously aware that the Toronto Raptors must win the next two games to get back to the Eastern Conference finals.
He doesn’t want the Raptors thinking past Wednesday, however.
The season is on the line for the reigning NBA champions, who trail the Boston Celtics 3-2 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series and face a win-or-go-home Game 6 matchup on Wednesday night. The Celtics controlled start to finish on the way to a 111-89 win in Game 5, putting the Raptors on the brink.
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Lowry said the Raptors can’t be thinking about winning two games. Game 6, he said, is all that matters.
“We’ve just got to work on one,” Lowry said. “I’m very confident in our group. Our group is very tough-minded, tough-spirited and we’re a good team. We know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to take one game at a time, one possession, one minute, one second at a time and just go out there and play.”
The Celtics are 6-3 against the Raptors this season, with four of those wins coming by at least 15 points. Celtics guard Kemba Walker was “checking hearts” before Game 5 — he did so by slapping teammates in the chest before they took the court — and the person dubbed “Cardiac Kemba” had to like what he saw as Boston reclaimed the lead in the series.
“I know what we’re capable of,” Walker said. “We’re capable of playing hard. That’s a skill. A lot of guys on that team have that skill and have that ability. So, I checked my guys’ heart. We showed it. Big time.”
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The winner of the Celtics-Raptors series will face the fifth-seeded Miami Heat, who finished off an upset of the NBA’s best regular-season team Tuesday, topping the Milwaukee Bucks 103-94 in Game 5 of their East semifinal series — while Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s reigning MVP, couldn’t play because of a sprained right ankle.
The Celtics and Heat last met in the conference finals in 2012 when Miami prevailed in Game 7. The Heat also beat the Celtics in a five-game conference semifinals series in 2011 and lost to Boston in a five-game first-round series in 2010.
The Raptors and Heat have met only once in the playoffs — a conference semifinals series in 2016 that Toronto won in seven games.