23 days of Toronto Raptors history: Loss to Philadelphia 76ers in playoffs

Toronto Raptors - Vince Carter and Allen Iverson (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Vince Carter and Allen Iverson (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images) /

We continue our “23 days of Toronto Raptors history” with the Raptors’ heartbreaking playoff loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on a missed buzzer beater.

The Toronto Raptors had just won their first playoff series in franchise history. The fifth seed Raptors, led by Vince Carter, upset the New York Knicks in a winner-take-all game five in The Garden. The franchise was on top of the world.

The celebration didn’t last long. It couldn’t. Next up were the Philadelphia 76ers led by the leagues Most Valuable Player, Allen Iverson. (He was voted MVP, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that any version of AI was better than 2000-2001 Shaq).

Toronto took control of game one. At half, they led by eight. After three, they led by 10. Philly did their best to make a comeback late in the fourth, but ultimately it was not enough as Toronto held on to win. Carter and Iverson each scored 35+, with Carter’s efficiency being the difference.

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Game two, Toronto jumped out to another lead. After the first quarter, the Raptors were up 10 and looked like they might just steal the first two games in Philadelphia. Allen Iverson had other ideas. He dropped 54 on Toronto, posting an efficient true-shooting percentage of 63-percent on an absurd 48.2-percent usage. Philly was able to squeak out a five-point victory.

But Toronto had stolen home court advantage. The Raptors had a serious chance to take control of the series with a game three win.

Vince Carter went off. The game after Iverson scored 54 in his home building, Carter put up 50 in Toronto. He shot greater than 65-percent from the field and hit 9-of-13 three-pointers. He was an unstoppable force.

Down 2-1 on the road, Philly won game four in a 84-79 slug-fest.

In game five, Iverson went off again. He scored 52, including 47 in the first three-quarters. His performance, combined with the Raptors 12 first quarter points, helped the 76ers dominate the game from start to finish.

With their backs against the wall, Toronto won game six. For the second time this postseason, Toronto would be in a winner-take-all elimination game.

Game Seven

Game Seven in Philadelphia in front of a packed crowd. Philly fans were cheering for their best team since Moses Malone and had no intentions of watching them lose.

Philly jumped out to a lead. After the first quarter, they led by 10.

Toronto fought back in the second and third quarters. Carter couldn’t find his rhythm, but Antonio Davis did, scoring 23 points total on the night while shooting 11-of-15.

Toronto trailed by three entering the fourth quarter, a lead they could never quite extinguish. The Raptors nipped at the heels of the 76ers all quarter, until finally with two seconds left, the Raptors had a shot for victory.

Curry in-bounded the ball. Pass to Carter. Pumpfake gets defender off his feet and the shot is……


Long. If Carter hits that shot, Toronto moves on to the Eastern Conference finals. Would they have beat the Bucks? Who knows. Would they have beat the Lakers? Hell no.

Still, the possible consequences of Carter hitting that shot are countless. It remains one of the biggest what-ifs in franchise history to this day.

It would take Toronto 15 years to have the same type of success, and it could be argued that the team has never been as close to an NBA finals as that shot.

Next. Best draft picks in Toronto Raptors history. dark

Checkout day 12 of our “23 days of Raptors history” when we remember Toronto’s decision to draft Chris Bosh.