Agrees To Coach Toronto Raptors
Wilkens didn't stay idle for long. Less than two months after quitting as head coach of the Hawks, he joined the Toronto Raptors as head coach. Interviewed by the Toronto Star shortly after the announcement of his appointment, Wilkens said he welcomed the opportunity to coach a team on the rise. "I like the competition of the games; I like the last two minutes of the game when you're up one or you're down one. I'm a competitor; I like to compete." He dismissed concerns about his final season with Atlanta, calling it an "aberration." He elaborated: "It's over, it's behind me, and it's time to move on. I'm a guy who wakes up and says 'Good morning, God.' Not 'Good God, it's morning.'"
In their first season under Wilkens' direction, the Raptors compiled a record of 47-35, the best in franchise history. In the first round of the playoffs, Toronto faced off against the New York Knicks in a rematch from the previous year, when the Knicks overpowered the Raptors. This time around, the results were different, with the Raptors triumphing over New York in five games. Advancing to the conference semifinals, Toronto met the Philadelphia 76ers, led by Allen Iverson, the league's MVP. Raptors star Vince Carter and Iverson engaged in a classic scoring duel with each recording games of fifty points or more, but in the end Philadelphia triumphed in its seventh games against Toronto.
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