TORONTO — Brett Brown has shared on several occasions how devastated he was over last season’s Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Back on May 12, Kawhi Leonard’s fadeaway corner jumper at the buzzer lifted the host Raptors to a 92-90 victory in the decisive game.
Unsolicited, the Sixers coach spoke of the heartbreak from that game during his coach’s clinic in September. He also shared that sentiment a couple of times with the media. Brown even downplayed the heartbreak level of Ben Simmons’ shoulder injury back on Nov. 6, noting that the Raptors’ loss was a heartbreak.
Yet, despite all that, the coach said after Monday’s shootaround that he’s over that loss. Monday night’s game marked the teams’ first meeting since that playoff series. This was also the Sixers’ first game back at Scotiabank Arena.
“It’s a great venue,” Brown said. “To have anything more truly to feel about it would be disingenuous. Like here we are."
He added that the Sixers haven’t spoken about what happened last postseason in the building. Brown said that for him, it’s another season.
But based on his previous references, Brown was asked if he ever gets over a loss like that. If so, how long does it take?
“I do get over it,” Brown said, “and it takes a while. But I do get over it and you move on. That’s the truth.”
On being back in the arena for the first time since then, the coach said he has memories of the series.
“It was so competitive, and at the end a tough loss,” he said. “But to, like, manufacture wild emotions to you all would not be truth for me. So here we are all.”
That’s when the coach was reminded that he referenced that loss as an example of heartbreak.
“I do,” he said. “But I just said I’m over it. It’s true. Maybe it’s not going to make for great headlines. But it’s true.”
That victory advanced the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals, in which they defeated Milwaukee in six games. Toronto went on to win its first NBA title, beating Golden State in six games.
The Sixers provided the Raptors’ stiffest playoff competition. And Leonard’s series-clinching shot was arguably the postseason’s most memorable individual moment.
The All-Star small forward was originally guarded by Simmons until Joel Embiid left Pascal Siakam and cut off Simmons. Leonard dribbled to the right corner and fired up a shot over Embiid as time expired. His high-arcing shot hit the rim four times before dropping into the basket. Leonard was immediately mobbed in front of the Raptors bench.
Meanwhile, Embiid was crying on the court after the first buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in league history. He was consoled by Raptors center Marc Gasol.
Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers) and Danny Green (Los Angeles Lakers) are no longer members of the Raptors. And Sixers newcomers Josh Richardson and Al Horford have replaced Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat) and JJ Redick (New Orleans Pelicans) as starters alongside Tobias Harris, Embiid, and Simmons.
This season, the Sixers have been on a roller coaster. They opened the season with five straight victories before losing five of their next seven. Then the Sixers took a four-game winning streak into Monday’s matchup.