Go crazy, New York, go crazy! Entering Sunday, all the Knicks needed to do was beat the Celtics.
After defeating the Boston Celtics, 96-92 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks have clinched home-court advantage in the first round.

It didn’t come easy as the Knicks led by as much as 21 points, but a ferocious 15-0 run by Boston in the fourth quarter cut the lead to as little as two. However, an enormous block by Nerlens Noel on Tremont Waters changed the momentum over the final 37 seconds.

This comes off the heels of a huge win on Saturday by the Milwaukee Bucks. After the Knicks fell to the Lakers, New York fell to the sixth spot with three games to go. The Knicks needed to win out and have the Heat fall in one of the final few games. With the Bucks at full strength and the Heat missing forward Jimmy Butler, Milwaukee defeated Miami, 122-108, to the delight of Knicks fans everywhere. With that, the Knicks returned to the fourth seed.

The NBA’s new play-in tournament will begin on May 18, and the first round of the NBA Playoffs will commence on May 22. The Knicks will take on Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

What a season the Knickerbockers have put together. 

A year ago, while the pandemic raged, the Knicks were not invited to the bubble after finishing among the worst teams in the NBA yet again. The last memory Knicks fans had was the overtime win in Atlanta the day Rudy Gobert tested positive. Swingman RJ Barrett, who was already being labeled a bust, was having maybe the best game of his career, and Knicks fans were watching Vince Carter’s last game without realizing it.

The Knicks then hired Tom Thibodeau as head coach, labeled as someone who couldn’t get it done in the NBA after failed attempts in Chicago and Minneapolis. NBA fans felt as though he would tire out Barrett.

The jokes continued after the Knicks slipped to eighth in the lottery. They drafted New Yorker Obi Toppin and traded for Immanuel Quickley, who was given a D- grade by CBS Sports.

The off-season signings came next; they signed players who fans thought wouldn’t help much. They signed guys like Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Theo Pinson, and fans questioned their decisions. After begging the front office to trade Julius Randle after a dismal first year in New York, they kept him.

Then the season started, and Knicks fans, who were afraid to love again, were ready for another season in the basement. But that never really happened. The Knicks were hovering at around .500 for most of the first full month. Then, in February, the Knicks traded for Derrick Rose, reuniting him with Thibodeau. From that point on, everything started to click for the ‘Bockers. After acquiring Rose, the Knicks went 30-16.

But it wasn’t just Rose being a factor off the bench for New York.

Everyone played a role on this Knicks team.

We all know the night-and-day switch by Randle and Barrett under Thibodeau. Randle has been playing like an MVP candidate and All-NBA player. Barrett has suddenly become more than just a cutter, showing a vast improvement in his jumper.

But it’s the role players who deserve credit, too—the guys who aren’t on SportsCenter every night.

Nerlens Noel became a key factor in anchoring the team defensively after Mitchell Robinson went down with a few injuries that needed to be surgically repaired. He as the defender and Taj Gibson, who signed midseason and was also reunited with Thibodeau and Rose, as the rebounder has been instrumental in this run for New York.

Immanuel Quickley has emerged as a steal for New York and should make, at least, NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Alec Burks has been a reliable sharpshooter for New York on nights where everyone else is off. After a slow start to the season, Reggie Bullock started to be a key 3-and-D type player. 

I love the nickname @Nykterryandandtray on Twitter has given Bullock, especially because it’s so accurate: Bodega Klay Thompson.

Lastly, players might lose the fire and desire sitting on the bench nearly every game. Maybe that player would sit on the bench and not cheer his teammates on as he fumes in anger over the lack of playing. 

Not Theo Pinson. 

Photo: Getty Images

He is a man who is patiently waiting for his turn to find some playing time. But as he waits for his time, Pinson has a special type of energy. It’s an energy that elevates the Knicks bench, which then elevates the energy on the court. It seems like he is the first man to stand up, raise his arm and tuck his index finger under his thumb while extending his other three fingers after a bucket from behind the arc. It seems like he is the first man off the bench to help up a teammate after taking a tumble after a big block, diving for a loose ball, or after a foul.

At first, him taking a roster spot was questionable, but now it’s understandable. He’s a heart and soul type of guy, and that type of player can be key for certain teams.

Knicks fans, your beloved Knickerbockers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and finished as the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference. Don’t be afraid to love again. Expectations for this team have risen. That trend will continue into the offseason.

“Knicks need to clinch that four seed to be back,” Shaquille O’Neal said on Inside The NBA a few weeks ago.
It looks like they’re back.

Featured Image: Getty Images
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