During yesterday Knicks-Cavs game, the Knicks not only set to clinch (with a win and a Bobcats loss) the team's first playoff birth since 2004, but they also were looking to prove they would be pushed around by the Cavs no more, after three embarrassing losses already this season.
Luckily for the Knicks, their "Big Three" certainly came to play, with Chauncey Billups pouring in 11 first quarter points on his way to 23 total, and Carmelo Anthony added 25. However, the team was led by none other than Amar'e Stoudemire, who with 28 points continued to prove that "the Knicks are back," with a confident 123-107 victory.
Having STAT lead the way in such focused fashion was quite the way to clinch the Knicks' first playoff spot in quit some time, being that he was the pioneer who originally sought out to bring winning basketball back to the Garden.
Now that it's official, the Knicks cannot let up. Looking ahead to the playoffs, the team needs to finish strong, potentially moving up to sixth seed. As it stands, the Knicks as the seventh seed would play the Heat, the second seed. Having beat the Heat before, perhaps STAT, 'Melo, and company would be more evenly matched against Miami's favorite sons rather than a defensive-minded Celtics team, currently the third seed.
Nevertheless, the Celtics are a tad injury-ridden and their defensive intensity has fallen a bit since the trade of Kendrick Perkins, so perhaps the Knicks can take advantage of the competition's tired legs with the momentum building in their favor.
With still nearly a couple weeks left in the regular season, the Knicks can at least exhale as it's official: the Knicks are back...in the playoffs.