2000-01: Raptors Taste Playoff Success

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2000-01: Raptors Taste Playoff Success
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After achieving their goal of making the playoffs in 2000, the Raptors were not about to stand pat. General Manager Glen Grunwald had a busy offseason as he was eager to improve the team. Joining the squad was draft pick Morris Peterson, free agent point guard Mark Jackson and Corliss Williamson, acquired in a trade for Doug Christie.

Vince Carter came off a busy summer after helping Team USA bring home the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Sydney. Vince added to his mystique and legend with his jaw-dropping dunk over (literally over!!) France’s 7-2 centre Frederic Weis.

The first half of the season was a successful one as the Raptors posted a first-half record of 26-23 and sent a franchise-best three players to the All-Star weekend in Washington. Carter led all vote-getters once more with 1,717,687, and was joined by Antonio Davis in the starting lineup. Peterson played in the Schick Rookie Challenge on the eve of the All Star classic.

In January Grunwald traded veteran centre Kevin Willis, Garth Joseph and Alek Radojevic to the Nuggets in exchange for Keon Clark, Tracy Murray and Mamadou N’diaye. The move sparked the team for a bit but it wasn't the end of a roster makeover. On the trading deadline, Toronto triggered two more trades, sending Jackson and Muggsy Bogues to the Knicks for Chris Childs and a first-round draft pick, and dealing Williamson, Tyrone Corbin and Kornel David to the Pistons for Jerome Williams and Eric Montross.

The trio of trades revitalized a sluggish Raptors squad that won 19 of its last 27 games to finish with a franchise best 47-35 record. Another playoff showdown with the New York was in the cards and it looked like the result might be the same as the previous year when the Knicks shut down Carter and the Raptors in Game 1. However, this meeting would be a different story as the Raptors came back to win Game 2 by 20 points and triumphed in the deciding Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, 93-89.

Advancing to the conference semi-finals, the Raptors met the top seed Philadelphia 76ers and league MVP Allen Iverson. Carter and Iverson engaged in a classic scoring duel during the series, each recording games of 50 points. Toronto gave everything it had but ultimately fell short in Game 7 as Carter's potential series-winning shot rolled off the rim.

In the team's most successful playoff run, Vince Carter and the Raptors pushed league MVP Allen Iverson and the 76ers to a deciding seventh
game in the Conference Semifinals.

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