Raptors' Kyle Lowry on Game 7: 'It's like our Super Bowl. Win or go home'

TORONTO -- Two years after Kyle Lowry got blocked by Brooklyn Nets veteran Paul Pierce at the buzzer, the Toronto Raptors are back in Game 7 again.

And this time, they’re hoping to finally advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since May 4, 2001.

"That Game 7 felt like life or death. I only experience it from a losing aspect, and that feeling sucks," DeMar DeRozan said Saturday, recalling Toronto’s heartbreaking 104-103 loss to Brooklyn.

DeRozan has been with the franchise for his entire seven-year career, and has been through it all -- the good, the bad and the ugly.

"By far (Sunday) is the biggest game of my career," DeRozan added.

A lot is riding on the outcome.

"It’s like our Super Bowl," Lowry said. "Win or go home. It’s one game. Survive or don’t survive. That’s the mentality that we have got to have."

The Raptors had a chance to close out the Indiana Pacers in Game 6, but were blown out by 18 points. They will have a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday night in front of a raucous crowd inside Air Canada Centre and outside at Jurassic Park.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey’s message to his team at Saturday afternoon's practice was simple.

"Push the reset button," Casey told them. "You’ve got to go out and do what you did for 82 games. You played at a high level; you played to your personality. Don’t worry about what’s happened in this series. Just come out and stick to the process and our identity: playing hard, defense first and sharing the ball on offense. Stick with it. And stay together, don’t fragment, don’t listen to the noise. Play for the guy sitting next to you and stick with him. He’s the most important guy."

Casey believes this team is different than the one that was swept by the Washington Wizards in 2014-15.

"Last year, we kind of looked for ways to exit stage right, but this year I don’t sense any of that at all," he said. "I sense fight. Guys understand what this is about, and they’re not afraid of the moment."

Indiana’s Paul George has played like the best player in the series, averaging 27.5 points on 45.7 percent shooting. Toronto’s Lowry and DeRozan, on the other hand, have averaged 30.1 points combined on 31 and 32.1 percent shooting, respectively.

The narrative surrounding Toronto’s All-Star backcourt, however, could flip in the next 48 minutes.

"I don’t care what’s happened in Games 1-6," Lowry said. "I don’t care if I’m shooting 31 percent. I don’t care. If I’m shooting zero percent, I’ve got a clear, empty clip. You can change everything in one game."

The future hangs in the balance. Casey has a team option for 2016-17. DeRozan will be a free agent and could be in line for a max contract.

A third straight first-round playoff ouster as the favored team could be crushing to its extremely passionate fan base.

The keys to victory seem obvious by now: get off to a fast start, limit turnovers, move the ball, hit 3-pointers and free throws, and try to contain George and his supporting cast as best as possible.

If the Raptors do all -- or almost all -- of that, they should be in prime position to erase the ghosts of postseasons past and finally get over the hump.

And if they don’t, changes seem certain to come.

"It’s always great to make history, honestly, when you know you have the opportunity to do it, because you’ll never be forgotten," DeRozan said. "That’s what it’s all about. Just putting that in the books and understanding you can do something special. You can’t let that moment go by, because you never know when you may have, or if you may have, the opportunity again."

Said Casey: "I have always said the next step is the hardest one to take. The next step is to get to that next round is the hardest one. We are going through that right now, and (Sunday) will be a great test for us."