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 Toronto’s first playoff series win: The first round in 2001.
Toronto Raptors (47-35, 5th seed) vs. New York Knicks (48-34, 4th seed)
Toronto defeats New York 3-2 in the best-of-five series.
What Everyone Remembers
The Raptors recovered from a 2-1 series deficit to win the series on the road in Madison Square Garden behind Alvin Williams’ clutch, series-clinching jumper (off a broken play) with 40 seconds to go.
What You Should Probably Remember Instead
That Antonio Davis, coming off his lone All-Star season, dominated the series, beating the Knicks at what used to be their own game.
For years, the Knicks pushed everyone around — even Michael Jordan’s Bulls, although they never did beat Jordan. But in 2001, following the trade of Patrick Ewing and seeing Larry Johnson’s season cut short due to back injury, the Knicks — while still more than willing to throw their weight around — weren’t nearly as big. They were led by Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell, both slashers and scorers, with their front line anchored by the still-skinny Marcus Camby and the undersized Kurt Thomas.
This was great news for the Raptors, who started Davis at centre alongside Charles Oakley at power forward, with skinny Keon Clark off the bench.
And Davis had his way with Camby and Thomas. While Vince Carter led all players in scoring at 22.8 per game, that was almost five points below his regular season average (27.6), and he shot just 37% (compared to 46% in the regular season). Davis led all Raptors in shooting, at 49%, and averaged 15.8 points per game, 2.1 points higher than his regular season average. He led all players with 12 rebounds per game, and naturally, hauled in the defensive rebound the possession before Williams hit his game winner.
Davis would go on to have great a great series battling Dikembe Mutombo in the next round, and was sensational the following season as well.
By the way, we were all pretty shocked at how low Kawhi Leonard’s minutes were in the first game against Orlando the other day, right? 33 on the night. Well, Vince Carter, Alvin Williams and Antonio Davis averaged 45, 43 and 40 minutes, respectively, this series.
Times have changed, kids.
What do you remember from the opening round in 2001? Let us know in the comments!