Unforgettable Game 7s in Philly sports history
The Sixers have played 12 of them, not including three that the Syracuse Nationals played in the 1950s before the franchise moved to Philly. They’re 4-8 overall and 1-6 on the road. The Flyers have played 16 of them, going 9-7 overall and 3-4 on the road. Then there’s the Philadelphia Warriors, who played in Game 7s in 1948 and 1962, winning one, losing the other. The Phillies? Incredibly, a franchise that’s been around for 137 years has never played a Game 7. The only Philadelphia baseball team that has is the Athletics, and that was 88 years ago. With the Sixers ready to tip-off against the Raptors in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Sunday evening, here’s a look at 10 unforgettable Game 7s in Philadelphia sports history.
Cards 4, Athletics 2, Oct. 31, 1931
Hard to believe the Phillies have never played in a Game 7. The only Philadelphia baseball team that has is the Athletics, and that was 88 years ago in the 1931 World Series. The Cards’ legendary Gashouse Gang was up three games to two when Hall of Famer Lefty Grove pitched the Athletics to an 8-1 win to force Game 7. The Cards, behind Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes, took a 4-0 lead after three innings, but the Athletics scored two runs in the top of the ninth at Sportsman’s Park III and had the tying run at the plate when Max Bishop flied out to center to end the season and the only Game 7 a Philly baseball team has ever played.
Warriors 85, St. Louis Bombers 46, April 6, 1948
It remains to this day the biggest Game 7 blowout in NBA history. The Eastern Division-champion Philadelphia Warriors and Western Division-champion St. Louis Bombers were tied 3-3 going into Game 7 of their semifinal series at St. Louis Arena (later known as the Checkerdome and about a mile from Sportsman’s Park, which we just mentioned). But the Warriors not only won by 39 points, they also held the Bombers, coached by Hall of Famer Ken Loeffler, to the lowest Game 7 point total in NBA history. Hall of Famer Joe Fulks, who led the NBA in scoring at 22.1 points per game that year, led five Warriors in double figures. The Bombers, an original NBA franchise in 1946, folded after the 1950 season.
Flyers 4, Rangers 3, May 5, 1974
The Rangers were an Original 6 franchise from 1942, two years removed from the Stanley Cup Finals, in the postseason for the 29th time. The Flyers were hockey upstarts in only their seventh year of existence with only two postseason series wins in franchise history. But the balance of power was changing in the NHL. The Flyers took a 2-0 lead in their semifinals series but the Rangers won three of the next four games, setting up Game 7 at the Spectrum. Gary Dornhoefer scored twice and Rick MacLeish and Orest Kindrachuk once each and Bernie Parent made 34 saves, including 14 in the third period, and the Flyers hung on for a 4-3 win. The Flyers went on to beat the Bruins 4-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Flyers 4, Islanders 1, May 13, 1975
A year after beating the Rangers in seven games in the semis, the Flyers did the same to another New York team, besting the Islanders in seven games, again finishing things off at the Spectrum. There wasn’t quite as much drama this time, with Rick MacLeish recording a hat trick and Gary Dornhoefer adding a goal to support Bernie Parent, who only needed to make 14 saves against Dennis Potvin, Bob Nystrom, Clark Gillies and the Islanders. As they did in 1974, the Flyers went on to win the Stanley Cup Finals in six games, this time over the Sabres.
76ers 99, Bucks 98, April 1981
The Sixers had won Games 1, 3 and 5 and the Bucks had won Games 2, 4 and 6, setting up a Game 7 Eastern Conference semifinals showdown at the Spectrum. Fewer than 7,000 people watched an epic battle between the Julius Erving-led 76ers and the Marques Johnson-led Bucks. The game had 19 lead changes and 11 ties. Lionel Hollins hit a jumper and Caldwell Jones made four foul shots in the final minute to give the Sixers a 99-95 lead. Junior Bridgeman’s three-pointer at the buzzer made it a one-point final. Incredibly, the score wasn’t official for another hour, until the refs were able to watch a replay of the final minute to make sure the Sixers hadn’t committed a shot-clock violation. They hadn’t, and an hour after the game ended the Sixers were officially in the NBA Finals.
76ers 120, Celtics 106, May 23, 1982
The only road Game 7 the Sixers ever won came against their biggest rival 37 years ago at Boston Garden. The Sixers led by just three early in the third quarter but went on to win comfortably behind 34 points from Andrew Toney, 29 by Julius Erving, 19 points and 11 assists from Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones’ 17 points. The 14-point loss remains the sixth-biggest in NBA history by a home team in a Game 7 and the second-largest in a conference final Game 7. Robert Parish led the Celtics with 23 and 14, Larry Bird had 20 and 11 and Kevin McHale added 20 and 6 for the Celtics. The Sixers went on to lose to the Lakers, four games to two, in the NBA Finals.
Flyers 3, Capitals 2 (OT), April 22, 2008
Joffrey Lupul scored off a rebound 6:06 into overtime to give the Flyers an improbable win over the Caps in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. It was the Flyers’ first postseason series win since 2004 and came a year after they had sputtered to the worst record in the NHL and only two months after the Flyers struggled through a 10-game losing streak. The game was tied at 2-all early in OT when Caps defenseman Tom Poti was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Only nine seconds remained in the Flyers’ power play when Lupul slipped a backhander past Caps goalie Cristobal Huet for the game-winner, setting off a wild Flyers celebration at the Verizon Center. That remains the only Game 7 overtime win in Flyers history.
Flyers 4, Bruins 3, May 14, 2010
Things looked bleak for the Flyers when the Bruins won the first three games of their 2010 Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Flyers came back to win the next three games, but things looked bleak again when the Bruins took a 3-0 lead in Game 7. But the Flyers closed to 3-1 late in the first period on a goal by James van Riemsdyk and then tied it in the second when Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere scored. It was Simon Gagne who catapulted the Flyers into the finals with the game-winner midway through the third period, and the Flyers became the first team since the 1975 Islanders vs. the Penguins (just before they played the Flyers) to win a series after losing the first three games.
76ers 88, Raptors 87, May 5, 2001
The Sixers had an early 10-point lead over the Raptors in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal round series but had to hold on in the final seconds when Vince Carter’s potential game-winning 20-footer was off target. Carter had raised eyebrows when he attended his college graduation at North Carolina the morning of the game, then rushed back to Philly. Allen Iverson had 21 points and 16 assists, Aaron McKie added 22 points including the Sixers' last two baskets, Jumaine Jones scored a playoff career-high 16 and Dikembe Mutombo added 17 rebounds for the Sixers.
Eagles 34, Cowboys 7, Oct. 30, 2011
I know, I know, NFL teams don’t get to play Game 7s. At least not in the postseason. But we didn’t want to leave out the Eagles, so we found their best Game 7 of the regular season in recent memory — a blowout win over the Cowboys eight years ago. Michael Vick threw TD passes to Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy rushed for 185 yards and two TDs and the Eagles blew out Dallas on a Sunday night at the Linc. The Eagles have beaten the Cowboys nine times by at least 27 points, and Andy Reid coached six of those games.