EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Vince Carter is thrilled about the New Jersey Nets' first-round matchup with Toronto, and probably so are the Raptors' fans.
Carter will get another shot at his old team, and the fans will get another chance to boo the man who made basketball fashionable in Canada until he begged out after a 6 1/2-year stay.
Forget that the Nets (41-41) and Atlantic Division champion Raptors (47-35) split four games during the regular season.
For now, just call the best-of-seven series that starts Saturday in Toronto the ``The Vince Series.''
Nets point guard Jason Kidd knew as much when asked what awaited Carter after the Nets beat Chicago on Wednesday night to clinch the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
``Twenty thousand people chanting against him, the Raptors, a great coach and a team that won the Atlantic,'' Kidd said. ``That's what awaits him. As a teammate and the Nets, we're here to help him.''
Carter would not go on record saying he wanted to play the Raptors, but he ran into the locker room like a little kid running out of school on the final day of classes - he raised his shirt, pounded the walls and was giddy with anticipation.
Carter insisted he was happy with how the Nets ended the season, winning eight of their final 11 games, including a season-ending four-game winning streak to match their season high.
Teammates said Carter told them he wanted to go north of the border.
``My teammate wanted Toronto, and whatever happens, we're going to be right behind him,'' center Mikki Moore said. ``They're going to have a lot of fans going at him, so we have to keep him strong. I know he is going to come out real strong.''
The Raptors are also looking forward to going against Carter, who averaged 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists against them this season.
``That matchup, I welcome it. I'm sure that he wants to play here. I don't mind seeing him, either,'' said former Raptors teammate Chris Bosh. ``It's a turning part for this organization. Who better to play than the guy who helped build this place up?''
An unhappy Carter was vilified by the fans after forcing Toronto to trade him to the Nets in December 2004.
Carter doesn't know why the fans haven't gotten over the trade, noting they should feel good about the current's team's division title this year.
As for himself, Carter is worried about the reception he'll get. He tries to remember the good times in Toronto.
``It's always good times, that's where it all started, so it's always good times,'' Carter said. ``You are going to have good and bad times, but the good always outweigh the bad.''
Heading into the series, Carter is playing some of his best basketball. He had 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Nets' win over the Bulls, just missing his third triple-double in seven games.
But if the Nets expect to beat the Raptors, Carter will have to deal with the fans.
``A lot of times, you ask the great players, they never hear the crowd,'' Kidd said. ``It all depends on Vince, whether he has rabbit ears, or does he just go out there and do a job. I think Vince is up for this challenge.''
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