As a Knicks fan, waiting for this team to win and win consistently has been a test of one’s patience. Championships have come too few and way too far in between. During the 1969-70 season, the Knicks would finish with a 60-22 record, four games better than second-place Milwaukee. They were led by the likes of Willis Reed, Walt Fraizer, Bill Bradley, and Dave DeBusschere. They would beat the Baltimore Bullets, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Los Angeles Lakers to claim their first NBA title.
In the 1972-73 season they would add Earl ” The Pearl” Monroe and finish 57-25, 11 games behind the mighty Boston Celtics during the regular season. But in the playoffs, it would be a different Knicks team. They would beat Baltimore in the opening round. In round 2, they would play one of the best series in their history and took down those mighty Celtics 4 games to 3 to earn another trip to the NBA Finals. There, they would once again conquer the Los Angeles Lakers in five games to claim their second NBA championship. And then, the long wait would begin.
The next time the Knicks would see a deep run in the playoffs was during the Patrick Ewing era. But those runs would be stopped by the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, and his Chicago Bulls. Jordan would abruptly retire after his father’s murder and the Knicks would become the kings of the East once again. In the 1993-94 season they would post a 57-25 record and make a run all the way to the NBA Finals. They were one tough bunch as Ewing got help from the likes of Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, John Starks, and Derek Harper to name a few. In the Finals, they met the Houston Rockets led by Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They would take a 3-2 series lead heading back to Houston. There, the Rockets would emerge victorious twice to win the title. Again, another long wait would begin.
The 2022-23 Knicks came into this season with much anticipation. They had hoped to get NBA superstar Donovan Mitchell during the offseason but settled on Dallas Mavs guard Jalen Brunson. All Brunson did was lead the Knicks all year long. All Brunson did was show why he was worthy of the trade. He led the team to a 47-35 record and a fifth seed for the upcoming playoffs. They would face off against the four-seed Cleveland Cavaliers led by the aforementioned Mitchell. Many experts were split as to who would win this series but many agreed it would be a hard-fought series. Many also had this series going six or seven games too.
What transpired what just the opposite as the Knicks would impose their will on the Cavs. They would outhustle and outmuscle the Cavs at virtually every turn. When Darius Garland came through with a huge 32 points in game two, it looked like we would have a series. That would be the last time the Cavs would get a win.
The Knicks’ defense would be the story over the next three games holding Cleveland to under 100 points in each game. Brunson would hit big shot after big shot. He got help from RJ Barrett who needed to have a big series in order to give the Knicks a fighting chance. A huge player in this series was Knick center, Mitchell Robinson. He would absolutely own the boards getting offensive and defensive rebounds at will.
In the deciding game five, Robinson would score 13 points and grab 18 rebounds, 11 on the offensive end. Julius Randle would re-injure his ankle in the second quarter and sit the rest of the way. Obi Toppin would spell him and produce big.
The addition of Josh Hart midseason proved to be one the best moves in the league and it paid off. He would help the Knicks win their first playoff series since 2013 and now they are off to the Eastern Conference Semis against the Miami Heat. The Heat are coming off a huge series upset of the Milwaukee Bucks four games to one.
The Knicks find themselves with a chance to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. But in order to do that some things have to happen. First off, Brunson and Barret must keep up their stellar play. Hart has to compliment them and Mitchell will need to own the boards once again. Of course, there is the task of stopping Jimmy Buckets, better known as Jimmy Butler during the regular season. Butler was a one-man show in beating the Bucks. He has proven time and time again that he is a different beast come playoff time.
For fans of the Knicks, it is a time of celebration but just for a moment. There is much work to be done before any celebrating can happen. Many fans have to be wondering. The way this team is playing right now, even without Randle, they have a legit shot at making the ECF and maybe, just maybe, the NBA Finals. As a Knicks fan, one can only hope and dream.
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