Playoff basketball is finally coming back to Madison Square Garden.
The New York Knicks clinched a spot in the NBA playoffs when the Boston Celtics lost Wednesday night to fall 3½ games behind New York with two games left. The playoff berth is the Knicks’ first since 2013, completing a quick turnaround under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau and a new front office.
The Knicks are sixth in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Miami Heat at 38-31. The Heat are fifth due to owning the head-to-head tiebreaker, but Miami and New York are each just a half-game behind the Atlanta Hawks for fourth.
New York won 38 games combined the last two seasons, part of a steak of seven straight losing campaigns. Owner James Dolan revamped the front office yet again last offseason with new team president Leon Rose and executive VP William Wesley. Rose hired Thibodeau, who has gotten buy-in from a roster of promising young players and veteran role players.
Thibodeau is a leading candidate for Coach of the Year. Julius Randle is a contender for Most Improved Player and All-NBA thanks to a breakout season in which he’s averaging career-highs with 24 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 41.5% shooting from 3-point range.
The Knicks have three games left in the regular season to try to improve their seed. The most important thing for the Knicks, though, is they’ve secured a top-six spot and a guaranteed first-round matchup.
The regular season concludes Sunday. The play-in tournament will take place Tuesday through Friday of next week, with the playoffs set to begin May 22.
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