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Can the Raptors really steal this series?

Less than a week ago, the Toronto Raptors were on the verge of extinction. A pair of blowout losses in Philadelphia followed by a home overtime defeat plunged Canada’s only NBA team into a 3-0 abyss in its first-round playoff matchup versus the favored 76ers.

No NBA team has ever come back from that deficit to win a series. And with NBA rookie of the year Scottie Barnes out with a sprained ankle and all-star Fred VanVleet hobbled by his own injury, no one gave the Raptors a chance to become the first.

But the tables have turned. The Raptors got Barnes back for Game 4 and despite VanVleet exiting early when his hip conked out, staved off elimination with a 110-102 victory. Then they marched into Philadelphia last night as a 3-to-1 underdog and smothered the Sixers, 103-88.

As the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 6 on Thursday night, you can sense everyone on both sides suddenly wondering: wait, could the Raptors actually pull off the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history?

The odds are still not in Toronto’s favor — Philly is a slight favorite to gain Game 6, and the updated series betting prices imply the Sixers have close to an 85 per cent chance of advancing.

The Sixers are not a very deep team. When they packaged disgruntled Ben Simmons with two players and two draft picks to acquire James Harden from Brooklyn in February, they made a bet that combining the former NBA MVP with current MVP finalist Joel Embiid would be enough to overcome a thin supporting cast.

The move seemed to be paying off over the first three games versus the Raptors, but now looks like it has the potential to go bust.

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