By: Randy Cruz (@cruzr83)
It became one of the greatest scoring duels in NBA Playoffs history. Allen Iverson versus Vince Carter -- two of the NBA's young stars that put on an historic playoff performance for the ages from May 6 - May 20, 2001 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Iverson and the 76ers, who were the number one seed in the East, were coming off a four game series win against the Indiana Pacers -- while Vince Carter and the Raptors were coming off a five game series win against the Knicks as the 5th seed. Side note: Remember when Reggie Miller brought back the fade haircut with the lines on the side for that Pacers-76ers series? Anyways...
Once the Eastern Conference Semifinals opened up, nobody knew what kind of series both Iverson and Carter would have. Iverson was unquestionably one of the top five players in the league at that time (averaging 31.1 ppg), as well being one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. Carter, on the other hand, was unquestionably THE most exciting player in the league and was only in his third season (averaging 27.6 ppg)
In a duel that you rarely see anymore in today's NBA, Allen Iverson and Vince Carter, game after game, went at each other for seven games. What made it more fun was the fact that each played different positions -- so it wasn't your typical "you guard me, I guard you" duel. It was really about who was the better player in the series and both going out there to prove their case.
With Iverson being the smaller, aggressive, heart of a lion scorer and Carter being the high flyer, aerial assault attacker, this series definitely made great television -- and with television, I mean it was still within the NBA on NBC era (last series on NBC was Lakers-Nets 2002 Finals). That's another story for a later date -- but NBC also did a masterful job telling a great story as the series played out.
In a fifteen day time span, both Allen Iverson and Vince Carter displayed an NBA playoff duel that is STILL talked about today. Twelve years later, it's definitely embedded in the minds of NBA fans who grew up watching and idolizing these superstars.
As the series tipped off, it didn't take Iverson and Carter that long to start putting numbers on the boards...
Game 1: May 6, 2001 (Tor leads 1-0)
Allen Iverson: 36 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds and 7 steals. Vince Carter: 35 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks.
Game 2: May 9, 2001 (Series tied 1-1)
Allen Iverson: 54 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal. Vince Carter: 28 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks.
Game 3: May 11, 2001 (Tor leads 2-1)
Vince Carter: 50 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 4 blocks. Allen Iverson: 23 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block.
Game 4: May 13, 2001 (Series tied 2-2)
Allen Iverson: 30 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals. Vince Carter: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks.
Game 5: May 16, 2001 (Phil leads 3-2)
Allen Iverson: 52 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 4 steals. Vince Carter: 16 points, 2 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals.
Game 6: May 18, 2001 (Series tied 3-3)
Vince Carter: 39 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block. Allen Iverson: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
Game 7: May 20, 2001 (Phil wins 4-3)
Allen Iverson: 21 points, 16 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block. Vince Carter: 20 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks.
And of course, we always wonder if Vince Carter had made that final shot at the buzzer in Game 7...