23 days of Toronto Raptors history: Franchise wins first playoff series

Toronto Raptors and Knew York Knicks 2001 Playoffs (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors and Knew York Knicks 2001 Playoffs (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images) /

We continue our “23 days of Raptors history” with the 2000-2001 Toronto Raptors beating the New York Knicks to win their first ever playoff series.

The Toronto Raptors first playoff showing did not go as planned. Entering the playoffs as the six seed, most expected New York to advance anyways, but being swept in their first appearance was embarrassing.

The next year Toronto would have a chance to right the ship. This time as a five seed, Toronto faced off against New York in a first-round re-match.

The series started off the same as the year prior. The hosting New York Knicks defeated the Toronto Raptors 92-85, with the Raptors’ star player, Vince Carter, scoring just 13 points on 5-22 shooting. Former Raptor, Marcus Camby played 44 minutes for the Knicks and gobbled up 18 rebounds. Things were not looking good.

Toronto dominated game two. The Raptors beat the Knicks 94-74 in the second game of the series, outscoring the Knicks by 16 in the second half. After four failed attempts, the franchise finally experienced a playoff win.

Heading back to Toronto the series was tied one-one.

The Knicks took game three. Latrell Sprewell scored 20 points in 47 minutes of action, and a critical fourth quarter ended up being the difference. Just days after experiencing their first playoff win in franchise history, the Raps were on the verge of elimination.

Game four in Toronto was electric. Carter stuffed the stat sheet 32 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. He did a little bit of everything that night, and Toronto was able to force a game five in Madison Square Garden.

With the chance to advance beyond the first round for the first time in franchise history, Toronto took no chances. Vince Carter played all 48 minutes and played well during those minutes. Carter scored 27 on 50-percent shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

At half, Toronto led by six. By the end of three, Toronto led by 11. A 70-59 defensive battle, the Raptors were looking to just hang-on. The Knicks used the Raptors conservative gameplay to their advantage, and by the middle of the fourth quarter, the lead shrunk to just two.

With 1:24 left the Raptors still led by just two. Vince Carter drove to the basket and scored. Toronto needed a defensive stop. Glenn Rice missed a mid-range jumper. Toronto needed a score. Alvin Williams made a mid-range jumper.

With 40 seconds left, up by six, Alvin Williams stole a pass to essentially seal the game. After being swept a season before, the Toronto Raptors had won their first ever playoff series.

Their reward? The number one seed Philadelphia 76ers, led by Allen Iverson.

Although the next series did not end favorably, the win was still a monumental moment in franchise history. Six years after their initial expansion, the Toronto Raptors were officially a playoff threat.

Next. Creating the Raptors All-Time Roster. dark

Checkout day 10 of Raptors history when we remember Vince Carter scoring 50 against the Philadelphia 76ers.