With everyone nervously awaiting game 7 between the Sixers and Celtics tomorrow, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the city’s recent history in game 7s.
A Philadelphia team has not won a game 7 since 2011, and has not won a game 7 on the road since 2010. As for the Sixers, they haven’t won a game 7 since 2001.
But each year is different, so let’s look back at some recent game 7s for Philadelphia teams:
Hawks @ Sixers 2021 Eastern Conference Semis
The most recent game 7 takes us back to Father’s Day of 2021. The Sixers, after blowing a 26-point lead in game 5, and bouncing back to win game 6 in Atlanta, were looking to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years. Unfortunately, this game became known as the game Ben Simmons quit. With the Sixers down by 2 late in the 4th, Simmons passed up a wide-open dunk, resulting in Matisse Thybulle’s free throws, in which he made 1 of 2. After the game, this play was looked back on as the turning point of a 103-96 loss.
Islanders @ Flyers 2020 Eastern Conference Semis
Up in the NHL Bubble in Toronto, the Flyers had just forced a game 7 against the Isles, after evening the series with an OT goal in game 5 and a 2OT goal in game 6. After securing the number 1 seed in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, many fans felt that this would be the Flyers team to make a run at the Cup. However, in this particular game 7, the Flyers came out flat. They were only able to muster 16 shots on goal. That, coupled with goals by Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauviliier, Andy Greene, and Scott Mayfield, led to a 4-0 shutout loss, and an eventual rebuild for the Fly Guys.
Sixers @ Raptors 2019 Eastern Conference Semis
I apologize for bringing this memory up. With a core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler, this was supposed to be the team to get the Sixers back to the ECF. After forcing a game 7 with a 112-101 win at home in game 6, the series shifted back to Toronto for a winner-take-all game. A game that was close the entire way saw the Sixers down 2 with under 10 seconds to play. After Kawhi Leonard went 1 of 2 from the free throw line, Jimmy Butler aggressively drove the ball down the court and converted on a layup with 4.2 seconds to go to tie the game at 90. Then, yeah. After Kawhi got away with a travel off the inbound pass, he proceeded to dribble to the corner and hit a 2-point buzzer-beater over the outstretched arm of Joel Embiid to send Toronto to the ECF, and an eventual NBA title.
Flyers @ Rangers 2014 Eastern Conference Quarters
After forcing a game 7 with a big, 5-2, win at home in game 6, the Flyers went into Madison Square Garden looking for a first-round win in the Battle of I-95. However, 2nd-period goals by former Flyer, Daniel Carcillo, as well as Benoit Pouliot put the Flyers in a 2-0 hole. Early in the 3rd, Jason Akeson answered with a goal to pull the Flyers to within 1. Unfortunately, that was all they would get, as the Flyers suffered their first game 7 loss since 2004.
Cardinals @ Phillies 2011 National League Division Series
While this is actually a game 5, not a game 7, I felt it is still worth mentioning as a winner-take-all game. After a 102-win season, the most in Phillies history, the Fightins faced the NL Wild Card team, the St. Louis Cardinals, looking to advance to the NLCS for the 4th consecutive season. After going up 2-1 in the series, the Phils would drop game 4 in St. Louis, setting a win-or-go-home game 5 back in Philly. That night in October, Roy Halladay was dealing. His only blunder, giving up a leadoff triple to Rafael Furcal, followed by an RBI double off the bat of Skip Schumaker. The only problem, Cardinals ace, Chris Carpenter was even better. Carpenter threw a complete game shutout, as that run in the 1st inning held up in a 1-0 win for St. Louis. He almost didn’t, though. On the 1st pitch of the bottom of the 9th, Chase Utley sent a fly ball to the track in right-center field, one that many people thought was a home run off the bat. 2 batters later, Ryan Howard grounded out to first base to end the game, and while running to 1st, tore his Achilles on a play that would wind up beginning the Phillies rebuild.
Sabres @ Flyers 2011 Eastern Conference Quarters
The most recent game 7 win for a Philadelphia team came by the Flyers in the 1st round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After forcing a game 7 with a 5-4 OT win in Buffalo, the Flyers stormed out of the gates, taking a 3-0 lead just past the mid-way point of the game. That lead would grow to 4-0 early in the 3rd, and the Flyers would go onto win the game 5-2.
Flyers @ Bruins 2010 Eastern Conference Semis
The last time a Philadelphia team won a game 7 on the road was at… TD Garden. The Flyers, who trailed 3-0 in the series, stormed back to force a game 7 in Boston. In that game, they fell behind 3-0 in the 1st after a goal by Michael Ryder and 2 goals by Milan Lucic. However, the team never quit and came back to tie the game mid-way through the 2nd period on a goal by Danny Briere. In the 3rd, Simon Gagne found the back of the net to put the Flyers up 4-3. That score would hold as the Flyers became just 3rd team in NHL history to win a series when down 3-0. The Flyers, who needed a shootout win over the Rangers on the last game of the regular season just to get into the playoffs, would go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing in 6 to the Blackhawks.