Welcome to Forgotten Raptors Playoffs! All throughout the 2019 NBA Playoffs, we’ll be looking back at past Raptors series — going all the way back to 2000 — and digging into the hidden, underrated, forgotten or straight-up wacky subplots and memories!
Today, we look at possibly the most well-remembered Raptors playoff series of all: The Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in 2001.
Philadelphia defeats Toronto 4-3 in the best-of-seven series.
What Everyone Remembers
There’s a lot to remember here, including two 50-point games, but Vince Carter attending his college graduation the day of Game 7, and then missing the game-winning jumper at the buzzer, will never be topped.
What You Should Probably Remember Instead
The Raptors started a dang rookie in games 6 and 7.
That’s right, Morris Peterson, 21st overall pick out of Michigan State, who only played in three games in the first round for a total of 35 minutes, started the last two games against Philly — and played 38 minutes alone in Game 6!
Now, starting wasn't foreign to Peterson — he started almost every game in the final two-thirds of the regular season after Corliss Williamson proved ineffective at the three (and the Raptors then reshaped their roster by trading away both Williamson, and point guard Mark Jackson). Peterson even started Game 1 against New York. But Lenny Wilkens wanted to get more postseason experience in his starting lineup , so he swapped MoPete out for Chris Childs, who started the rest of the Knicks series and the first five Philly games.
But in a game of postseason chess, 76ers coach Larry Brown — with his team trailing 2-1 in the series — went big, and started Aaron McKie ahead of Eric Snow in games 4 and 5. And it worked! The Sixers won both, with McKie scoring 37 points on 16-of-27 shooting combined in the two contests.
That prompted Wilkens to go back to Peterson for Game 6 — and it worked! McKie still scored 19, but MoPete went 3-for-5 from downtown as the Raptors won going away.
Game 7 may have been a little much for the rookie, though; he was only 3-for-7 in 19 minutes, while McKie was sensational, leading the Sixers with 22 points, scoring their final two buckets and hauling in two massive offensive rebounds in the final minute to help the Sixers run the clock down.
In a series in which Vince Carter and Allen Iverson each had 50-point games, who would have guessed that the matchup between Peterson and McKie would swing the final game?
Outside of Vince’s miss, what do you remember from the Philly series? Hit the comments and share your memories.