It's finally over.
Mercifully, bitterly, regrettably, it's finally over. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Miami Heat on Saturday night, clinching a playoff spot for the Hawks and in the process, eliminating the New York Knicks from playoff contention. It is the first time in Carmelo Anthony's career he will miss the playoffs.
The elimination comes at the end of a disappointing and frustrating season that saw the Knicks fall apart early. They went 2-11 in November, and 9-21 before the beginning of the year. A 2-11 February should have ended it, but injuries to the Hawks and the overall incompetence of the Eastern Conference opened the door. They made a strong push in March, winning games over Golden State, Brooklyn and Indiana. But ultimately, it wasn't enough, and losses to the Lakers, Wizards and a dagger loss last Sunday to Miami put their playoff hopes to the edge.
The Knicks will face a lot of questions this summer about their future. New head of basketball operations Phil Jackson will get to reshape the roster how he wants, within the confines of a restrictive cap structure. Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out into free agency. Should he decide to go elsewhere, the Knicks would have no star, no picks and no cap room to navigate. He's expected to re-sign.
Was the Knicks' fall the result of poor offseason moves that brought in Andrea Bargnani who's on/off numbers indicated defensive hemmorhaging? Was it Mike Woodson's coaching? J.R. Smith's offseason knee surgery after signing a multiyear deal? Chemistry? Fate? Luck?
Or was it the inevitable crash after the 57-win 2013 season for a team that relied on inefficient isolation shooters, aging defenders and an organization built around one player, one agency, one ego?
Those questions will be debated in the months to come. For now, it's over, and the Knicks have nothing but time left to find their zen.
And now, enjoy this retrospective of the 2013-2014 New York Knicks: