Amar'e Stoudemire proclaimed, "The Knicks are back" when he signed as a free agent in July. He then saw his words come to fruition as the Knicks on Sunday night officially clinched their first playoff berth in seven years.
"This is exactly where I expected to be, here in the playoffs," Stoudemire said. "This was the goal, this was the plan."
It was a long time coming for a franchise that last reached the postseason in 2004. And even that year was a bit of a blur because the team finished under .500 (39-43) and barely created a stir as they were swept in the first round by the Nets.
Really, the last time the Knicks mattered and were in the playoffs was in 2000-01, when the Knicks finished 48-34 and were stunned in a five-game loss to the Toronto Raptors. That ended a stretch of nine straight years in which the Knicks reached at least the second round of the playoffs.
No one knew that it would also start a stretch of seven years out of eight that the team would fail to make the playoffs.
"I've been blessed to be in the postseason every year I've been in the NBA," Carmelo Anthony said. "I can't imagine how it felt the past couple of years not making it to the playoffs, not having the New York Knicks in the postseason."
Anthony and Chauncey Billups came to New York on Feb. 22 used to much higher expectations than just clinching a berth.
"Since being here, I know that it's been a while since this team has been in the postseason," said Chauncey Billups, who reached, two consecutive NBA Finals and six straight Eastern Conference Finals with the Detroit Pistons. "For me, it's kind of regular, but I'm excited to be on a team that kind of put New York back in the postseason and playing for something."
KNICKS 123, CAVALIERS 107: Amar'e Stoudemire had 11 points in the fourth quarter, as the Knicks blew open the game by outscoring the Cavaliers, 30-19. Bill Walker had an electrifying dunk in a 12-0 run early in the quarter that put the Knicks in control. Stoudemire finished with 28 points and seven rebounds to lead the Knicks (38-38), who have won three straight games and clinched a playoff berth. J.J. Hickson had 23 points to lead the Cavaliers (15-61).
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