2006–07 Toronto Raptors season
|2006–07 Toronto Raptors season|
|Head coach||Sam Mitchell|
|Owner(s)||Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment|
|Arena||Air Canada Centre|
|Place||Division: 1st (Atlantic)
Conference: 3rd (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||Eastern Conference First Round (eliminated 4–2)|
|Television||Rogers Sportsnet, Raptors NBA TV, TSN, The Score, CIII|
The Toronto Raptors 2006–07 season is the twelfth National Basketball Association (NBA) season for the Toronto Raptors basketball franchise. Following a poor 2005–06 season, General Manager Bryan Colangelo greatly revamped the team roster during the pre-season but continued to build the team around All-Star Chris Bosh. Despite a sluggish start, the 2006–07 season transformed into a watershed year for Toronto. The Raptors captured their first division title, finished third in the Eastern Conference, made the playoffs for the first time in five years, equalled their best ever regular season record, and secured home court advantage for the first time in franchise history. However, the Raptors met the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs and were defeated four games to two. At the end of the regular season, head coach Sam Mitchell and Colangelo were named NBA Coach of the Year and NBA Executive of the Year respectively.
|1||1||Andrea Bargnani||Forward||Italy||Benetton Treviso (Italy)|
|2||35||P.J. Tucker||Forward||United States||Texas|
|2||56||Edin Bavčić (traded to Philadelphia)||Center||Bosnia and Herzegovina||ASA BH Telecom (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Adriatic League)|
|2006 NBA Draft|
Before the season, Toronto won the NBA Draft Lottery and were awarded the 1st overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. To prepare for their draft choice, the Raptors traded Rafael Araújo for Kris Humphries and Robert Whaley, and traded Matt Bonner, Eric Williams and a second round pick for Rasho Nesterovič and cash considerations. The 1st overall pick was used to select Italian Andrea Bargnani, making him the first European drafted number one overall. Maurizio Gherardini was hired as the club's vice-president and assistant general manager, making him the first European elevated to an NBA executive job. Promising small forward Charlie Villanueva was traded for point guard T. J. Ford and cash considerations, while Chris Bosh was rewarded with a three-year extension.
Toronto Raptors roster
General Manager Bryan Colangelo continued to surround Bosh with complementary players, and signed two-time Euroleague Most Valuable Player Anthony Parker. Spanish international Jorge Garbajosa and former slam dunk champion Fred Jones were also signed from free agency. The Raptors concluded pre-season transactions by re-signing veteran Darrick Martin. With this new lineup, Toronto looked to maintain a team who could both pass and shoot the ball, but was also stronger defensively than the 2005–06 roster. As a showcase of their new roster, on 15 October 2006, the 119 points by Toronto marked the third highest total in a pre-season game in franchise history. The Raptors finished the pre-season with a 7–1 win-loss record, which was the best record in the league and a franchise record.
Push for playoffs
The first half of the season produced mixed results as Toronto struggled towards the .500 mark after a dismal 2–8 start. Bosh's consistent performances however ensured he was named an All-Star starter in the 2007 NBA All-Star Game on 25 January 2007. He received the most number of votes after LeBron James among all Eastern Conference forwards. A day later, the Raptors hit the .500 mark for the first time since the 2003–04 season after defeating the Boston Celtics at the Air Canada Centre. On 2 February, the Raptors went 24–23, the first time since 2001–02 that they had been over .500 this late in a season. As a result, the Raptors won three NBA Eastern Conference awards for the month of January: Player of the Month (Bosh), Rookie of the Month (Bargnani) and Coach of the Month (Sam Mitchell). On 4 February, the Raptors' 122–110 home win against the Los Angeles Clippers represented a season-high in points for the Raptors. Within the same week, Bosh's career-high 41 points in a win against the Orlando Magic prompted an unheard of event at the Air Canada Centre—chants of "MVP" by the home fans. This chant was repeated in a win against Vince Carter's New Jersey Nets ten days later—to the disbelief of Carter—a game which also saw the team break franchise records for most number of home wins and highest home winning percentage entering the All-Star break.
After the break, Colangelo traded Jones for Juan Dixon, a versatile guard. Luke Jackson was also signed to provide depth to Toronto's bench. Following a win against the Charlotte Bobcats on 1 April 2007, Toronto clinched a playoff berth for the first time in five years. They then claimed their first division title when they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers five days later, winning the Atlantic Division crown. Another franchise record was set when Toronto won the next game against the Bulls, this time for most home wins.
The Raptors were eventually seeded third in the Eastern Conference, marking one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history in terms of league standing and defensive ranking. Throughout the season, they were lauded for playing solid defense and good sharing and moving of the ball. José Calderón, Bargnani, Dixon and Morris Peterson turned in reliable performances from the bench while Ford and Bosh ran the offence with consistent numbers. And in Parker and Garbajosa, the Raptors had two very versatile players who could both defend and attack. Furthermore, in contrast to previous seasons, the Raptors were able to win games despite injuries to key players such as Bosh, Bargnani, Parker, Ford and Garbajosa. Colangelo, Gherardini and Mitchell were also largely credited for transforming Toronto's fortunes.
|x-New Jersey Nets||41||41||.500||6||24–17||17–24||10–6|
|New York Knicks||33||49||.402||14||19–22||14–27||3–13|
|6||x-New Jersey Nets||41||41||.500||12|
|11||New York Knicks||33||49||.402||20|
As third seed, the Raptors played sixth seed New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs. The series drew much media attention as Vince Carter, a former Raptor who left Toronto under acrimonious circumstances two seasons ago, was now back at the ACC as a Net. In the opening game, while Carter was constantly booed by the home crowd and was not an offensive threat, Toronto's inexperience was evident as they too struggled offensively and were down 65–78 going into the fourth quarter. A late rally by Toronto in the fourth quarter was not enough as they eventually lost 91–96. The Raptors won game 2 89–83 at the ACC to tie the series 1–1, as Bosh recorded 25 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. The Nets won games 3 and 4 to lead 3–1, but Toronto forced a game 6 when they narrowly won 98–96 in game 5. In that game, the Raptors set two post-season franchise records: most number of points going into halftime and biggest lead for a half. The attendance for the game was also a franchise record for a playoff game. In game 6, however, New Jersey won 98–97, sealing the series 4–2 and sending Toronto out of the first round.
In recognition of being the chief architects of Toronto's turnaround season, on 24 April 2007, Mitchell was named 2006–07 NBA Coach of the Year, the first Raptors coach to receive this honour; Colangelo was later named 2006–07 Executive of the Year.
|2007 playoff game log|
First Round: 2–4 (Home: 2–1; Road: 0–3)
|2007 playoff schedule|
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