The Knicks will be taking their talents to South Beach.
After a torrid 18-6 finish to the 2011-12 regular season, which was the best 24-game finish in the Eastern Conference, the seventh-seeded Knicks (36-30) will take on the second seed Miami Heat in a star-studded first round playoff series.
It is the official return of a memorable rivalry from the late 1990s, one that heavily favored the Knicks, who won three of the four post-season meetings from 1997-2000.
In 1999, the Knicks pulled off a stunning upset of the top-seeded Heat on a last second shot by Allan Houston in a season that was shortened by a lockout. Could history be repeated?
Baron Davis actually referenced another parallel in his Golden State Warriors team that upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in 2007. Davis said that Warriors team had a great deal of confidence going into the playoffs.
"We share the same type of energy here with the Knicks, knowing that nobody is counting us in it to win it," he said.
Davis was one of three starters -- along with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler -- who sat out the regular season finale in Charlotte. The game was relatively meaningless, as the Knicks had to lose and the Philadelphia 76ers had to win in order to slip to the eighth seed and avoid a first round matchup with Miami. But the 76ers also rested several starters and were blown out in Detroit, thus securing their spot at No. 8 and a first round meeting with the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.
The game in Charlotte actually wasn't entirely meaningless, as it allowed interim coach Mike Woodson to give Amar'e Stoudemire one more game to find his rhythm after missing 13 games with a bulging disc in his lower back. Stoudemire looked very strong, with 21 points in 24 minutes of a 104-84 win.
Aside from Jeremy Lin, who is still recovering from knee surgery, this may be the healthiest the Knicks main players have been all season. After a strong finish and a new defensive-minded identity under Woodson, it's certainly the most confident they have been all season.
"I like our chances against anyone," Stoudemire said. "We feel like we've been playing well under Coach Woodson, so it's going to be a great battle. I think every game we've played against Miami so far (this season) has been a tight one. So it's really anybody's game."