Knicks playoff history
The Knicks have made the postseason 42 times in franchise history, winning two championships.
1946-47 SEASON (BAA)
In the Basketball Association of America’s inaugural season, head coach Neil Cohalan led the Knicks to the playoffs. After eliminating the Cleveland Rebels in the quarterfinals (2-1), Stan Stutz (16.8 points per game in the playoffs) and the Knicks were swept by the Philadelphia Warriors in the best-of-three series. Cohalan didn’t coach again in the BAA or NBA.
Pictured: Lee Knorek
1947-48 SEASON (BAA)
The 20-year-old Carl Braun joined the Knicks and led them to their second straight playoff appearance. In the first round of the postseason, the Western Division’s Baltimore Bullets eliminated the Knicks in three games. Braun scored just six points in the final game.
Pictured: Carl Braun
1948-49 SEASON (BAA)
In his second year with the team, Carl Braun, who averaged 14.2 points in the regular season, broke out in the playoffs. He averaged 19.3 points, leading the Knicks past the Baltimore Bullets in three games in the Eastern Division semis. Red Auerbach’s Washington Capitols were up next. Despite winning the last three regular-season games against the Capitols, the Knicks were eliminated in the East finals in three games.
Pictured: Carl Braun
Teamed with second-year pro Harry “The Horse” Gallatin, Carl Braun and the Knicks exacted revenge against the Washington Capitols, sweeping them in the Eastern semis. For the second straight year, though, New York was eliminated in the East finals, 2-1, this time by the Syracuse Nationals.
Pictured: Harry Gallatin
Sweetwater Clifton and Max Zaslofsky joined a Knicks team that already featured Harry Gallatin, Vince Boryla and Dick McGuire. Despite finishing third in the Eastern Division, the Knicks advanced to the NBA Finals, beating the Boston Celtics in the East semis and the Syracuse Nationals in the East finals. Arnie Risen, future Knicks coach Red Holzman and the Rochester Royals jumped out to a 3-0 series lead. The Knicks picked up three consecutive wins, but the Royals won Game 7 in Rochester, 79-75. Boryla, Clifton, Gallatin, Zaslofsky and Connie Simmons all scored in double figures in the deciding game.
Pictured: Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton
Joe Lapchick’s Knicks again finished third in the Eastern Division, and again managed to reach NBA Finals. The Knicks took out the Boston Celtics in three games in the Eastern semis, then upset the No. 1 seed Syracuse Nationals, 3-1, in the division finals. The Knicks drew George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA Finals. The two teams alternated wins, with the Lakers winning Games 1, 3 and 5, and the Knicks winning Games 2, 4 and 6, to set up a decisive Game 7 in Minneapolis. The Lakers’ suffocating defense held the Knicks to eight points in the third quarter and won, 82-65.
Pictured: Joe Lapchick (right)
For the third straight season, the Knicks made the NBA Finals. New York won a franchise-record 47 games en route to the Eastern Division title. Carl Braun, back after missing the previous two seasons, led the team with 14.0 points per game in the regular season. He, Connie Simmons, Ernie Vandeweghe, Nat Clifton, Vince Boryla and Harry Gallatin all averaged in double figures in the playoffs as the Knicks needed just six total games to eliminate the Baltimore Bullets and Boston Celtics, setting up a Finals rematch with the Minneapolis Lakers. Unlike the previous year, though, this series was one-sided. After winning Game 1, 96-88, the Knicks dropped the next four to lose a third straight Finals.
Pictured: Vince Boryla
The NBA instituted a new playoff format, using a round-robin for each division to set up divisional finals. The Knicks, despite winning the Eastern Division, dropped all four games in the round robin, and were eliminated from the postseason.
Pictured: Dick McGuire
Ray Felix was added to a roster that already included Carl Braun, Harry Gallatin, Nat Clifton and Dick McGuire. Felix, 24, averaged 14.4 points during the regular season as the Knicks made the playoffs as a No. 2 seed. But in the Eastern semis, Bob Cousy and the Boston Celtics beat the Knicks in three games.
Pictured: Ray Felix (with ball)
For the 10th straight season, the Knicks found themselves in the playoffs. However, for the first time in franchise history, the Knicks finished with a losing record, resulting in Vince Boryla replacing Joe Lapchick as head coach toward the end of the season. The Knicks took on the Syracuse Nationals in an Eastern Division tiebreaker and lost, 82-77.
Pictured: Vince Boryla
After a two-year playoff hiatus — the first two such seasons in franchise history — new coach Andrew Levane guided the Knicks to a second-place Eastern Division finish. Kenny Sears, Richie Guerin and Willie Naulls, three players 26 or younger, led the Knicks, averaging 21.0, 18.2 and 15.7 points during the regular season, respectively. Sears (10-for-27 shooting) and Guerin (9-for-35) both fell flat in the playoffs, though, and the Knicks were swept by the Syracuse Nationals in the Eastern semis.
Pictured: Richie Guerin
After going nearly a decade without making the playoffs, the Knicks began to build the foundation of their championship-winning teams. Led by a young Willis Reed, New York returned to the postseason and lost, 3-1, to the Celtics in the Eastern semifinals.
Pictured: Willis Reed (center left) and Wilt Chamberlain (center right)
Red Holzman took over for Dick McGuire with the Knicks struggling at 15-22, and coached New York to 28 wins in their final 45 games to make the playoffs. Willis Reed (20.8 points, 13.2 rebounds per game), Dick Barnett, Cazzie Russell and Walt Bellamy formed the team’s core. For the second straight year, though, the Knicks were eliminated in the first round, as Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers won, 4-2.
Pictured: Willis Reed and Red Holzman
With second-year point guard Walt Frazier promoted to the starting lineup, the Knicks won more than 50 games for the first time in franchise history and finished third in a stacked Eastern Division. After sweeping Earl Monroe and the No. 1 seed Baltimore Bullets in the Eastern semis, the Knicks were upset by the eventual NBA-champion Celtics in six games.
Pictured: Walt Frazier and Willis Reed
The Knicks returned to the NBA Finals for the first time in 17 years. And for the first time in franchise history, they won a championship. Led by Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Bill Bradley, Red Holzman’s Knicks won 60 games, a franchise record, en route to an Eastern Division title. The Knicks survived the Bullets in seven games in the first round, then dominated the Bucks in the East finals in five. That set up a Finals match-up between the Knicks and Lakers, the same team that had beaten them in the 1952 and 1953 Finals. Like 1952, the Knicks and Lakers exchanged wins in the first six games, setting up Game 7 in New York. Reed, dealing with a torn muscle in his thigh, was expected to miss the game, but dramatically trotted out to the court just before game time and hit the Knicks’ first two shots. Reed finished with just four points, but Walt Frazier exploded for 36 as the Knicks won easy, 113-99.
Pictured: Willis Reed and Red Holzman
The Knicks, boasting the league’s best defense, won the inaugural Atlantic Division title, and earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. New York cruised past the Hawks in the semis, setting up a match-up with Earl Monroe, Jack Marin and the Baltimore Bullets in the conference finals. With home-court advantage, the Knicks jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, including a dominant 19-point win in Game 2. Baltimore bounced back to win three of the next four games, though, setting up Game 7 back in New York. Trailing by four at the half, Baltimore outscored the Knicks 30-21 in the third quarter, and eventually hung on to beat New York and advance to the NBA Finals.
Pictured: Willis Reed
For the first time in four years, the Knicks failed to win 50 games. Still, they finished third in the Eastern Conference, drawing a rematch with the Central Division-champion Baltimore Bullets in the Eastern semis. Unlike the previous year, though, Earl Monroe was on the Knicks, traded to New York from Baltimore for Mike Riordan and Dave Stallworth during the regular season. The Knicks proceeded to beat the Bullets in six games, then eliminate the Celtics in five games in the Eastern finals to advance to the NBA Finals. Armed with Gail Goodrich, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, though, the Lakers were too much, and won the series in five games.
Pictured: Earl Monroe
With a healthy Willis Reed, Earl Monroe for a full season and Jerry Lucas coming off the bench, the Knicks won their second — and last — championship. New York finished second in the Atlantic Division, 11 games behind the Boston Celtics. In the first round, New York again handled the Baltimore Bullets, winning in five games. That set up a series with John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and the Boston Celtics. The Knicks jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before dropping the next two, setting up Game 7 in Boston. New York’s defense stepped up, though, winning 94-78 to set up a Finals rematch with the Lakers. Los Angeles won the opening game, but the Knicks rattled off the next four to win the title.
Pictured: Willis Reed
In what was a curtain call for future Hall-of-Famers Jerry Lucas, Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere, the Knicks made the playoffs for the eighth straight season as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. But after surviving the Capital Bullets, 4-3, in the opening round, the Knicks lost to the Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference finals. Lucas, Reed and DeBusschere all retired following the season.
Pictured: Dave DeBusschere
Now led by the Rolls Royce Backcourt of Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, the Knicks snuck into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed, the first time the NBA allowed 10 total teams into the postseason. In the Eastern Conference first round, New York lost to the No. 4 Houston Rockets, 2-1.
Pictured: Walt Frazier (left) and Earl Monroe
Willis Reed took over as head coach of a new-look Knicks team. Walt Frazier was gone, and the team was now led by Bob McAdoo, Lonnie Shelton, Spencer Haywood and Earl Monroe. McAdoo (23.8 points per game in the playoffs) and Ray Williams (17.5) led the No. 5 Knicks to a 2-0 series win over the Cavaliers in the first round, but “Dr. J” Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers swept the Knicks in the East semis.
Pictured: Bob McAdoo (left) and Lonnie Shelton
With Red Holzman back in charge, the Knicks returned to the postseason, finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference. New York was led by a core of young players. Bill Cartwright (23), Ray Williams (26), Campy Russell (29) Micheal Ray Richardson (25) and Sly Williams (23) were the team’s five leading scorers. The Chicago Bulls won Game 1 in the first round of the playoffs 90-80, though, then held on to win Game 2 in overtime and eliminate the Knicks.
Pictured: Bill Cartwright
Hubie Brown took over as head coach, and Bernard King and Truck Robinson joined the fold as the Knicks got back to the playoffs after falling short the year before. After upsetting the Nets in the first round of the playoffs, the Knicks were swept by the 65-17 Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern semis.
Pictured: Truck Robinson
Bernard King again led the scoring attack for the Knicks, averaging 26.3 points as New York finished third in the Atlantic Division. It was in the postseason that King shined, though. The All-Star forward averaged 34.8 points in 12 postseason games, and was the main reason the Knicks got by the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs. New York pushed the No. 1 seed Celtics to the brink in the Eastern semis, but Boston easily won the decisive Game 7 at home, 121-104.
Pictured: Bernard King
Behind third-year star Patrick Ewing, the Knicks embarked on the greatest stretch of playoff appearances in franchise history. New York snuck into the postseason under head coach Rick Pitino, but lost in the first round to the Celtics in four games.
Pictured: Patrick Ewing
With Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson leading the charge, the Knicks won their first Atlantic Division title since the 1970-71 season. New York easily got by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, sweeping the series 3-0, but then ran into Michael Jordan for the first time in the playoffs. Jordan scored 34 points in the series opener, leading Chicago to a 120-109 overtime win. The Bulls won in six games.
Pictured: Mark Jackson and Rory Sparrow
The Knicks turned to Stu Jackson, the team’s fourth head coach in as many years. Under Jackson, Patrick Ewing enjoyed a career year, averaging 28.6 points and 10.9 rebounds, as the Knicks finished third in the Atlantic. New York upset the No. 4 seed Celtics, 3-2, in the opening round, but had no answer for Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern semis, falling in five games.
Pictured: Patrick Ewing
Dealing with a coaching change — Stu Jackson was replaced by John MacLeod 15 games into the season — the Knicks struggled through the regular season, winning six games fewer than the year prior. Patrick Ewing again had a big season, though, averaging 26.6 points and 11.2 rebounds, and Charles Oakley added 12.1 rebounds per game. Seeded eighth in the East, the Knicks had to face Michael Jordan and the No. 1 Bulls in the first round. Chicago advanced in three games.
Pictured: Charles Oakley and Frank Brickowski
With Mark Jackson again starting at the point, John Starks more involved in the offense and Pat Riley in as head coach, the Knicks won 50 games for the first time in three years. Seeded fourth in the East, the Knicks took on Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons in the postseason again. This time, the Knicks won in five games. Next up, though, were the defending-champion Chicago Bulls. The Knicks took them to the brink, forcing a Game 7 in Chicago, but Michael Jordan scored 42 points in a 110-81 Bulls win.
Pictured: Michael Jordan and John Starks
Charles Smith was added to the mix, giving the Knicks a dominant frontcourt that included Smith, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley — with Anthony Mason coming off the bench. The Knicks ran through their schedule and finished 60-22 for the No. 1 seed in the East. But after beating the Pacers in four, then the Hornets in five, New York once again had to take on the Chicago Bulls, this time in the East finals. And after jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, the Knicks fell flat, losing Game 3 by 20 and Game 4 by 10. With the momentum, the Bulls wrapped up the series in six games.
Pictured (left-to-right): Patrick Ewing, Charles Smith, John Starks, Anthony Mason
The Knicks reloaded after another premature playoff exit to make a charge at an NBA championship. After winning the Atlantic Division for the second straight year, the Knicks beat the Nets, 3-1, in the opening round of the playoffs. Chicago, the team that had eliminated New York in four of the previous five postseasons, was next. This time, there was no Michael Jordan, and the Knicks won in seven games. After winning a grueling seven-game series against the Pacers in the East finals, the Knicks advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. New York jumped out to a 3-2 series lead against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets, but Houston won Game 6, forcing a decisive final game. In Game 7, John Starks famously had one of the worst nights in NBA playoff history, shooting 2-for-18 from the field and 0-for-11 from three, and the Knicks lost, 90-84.
Fresh off a Finals defeat, the Knicks, with much the same roster as the previous two seasons, finished second in the Atlantic and third in the East. New York easily took down the Cavs in the first round, 3-1, but found a new nemesis in Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern semis. The brutal series went seven games, the Pacers jumping out to a 3-1 series lead, but the Knicks fighting back to force a Game 7 at MSG. Down 97-95 with time ticking down, Patrick Ewing missed a layup, enabling the Pacers to advance. The next day, Pat Riley resigned.
Pictured: Pat Riley
Legendary coach Don Nelson took over the Knicks, but was gone after 59 games. Jeff Van Gundy replaced him, and New York made the playoffs as a No. 5 seed. For the second straight year, the Knicks played Cleveland in the first round, and for the second straight year, made it a short series, this time sweeping the Cavs. The Bulls, with Michael Jordan back on the roster, were next, though, and New York was eliminated in five games.
Pictured: Patrick Ewing and Jeff Van Gundy
The Knicks signed free-agent shooting guard Allan Houston in the offseason. The former Piston quickly emerged as New York’s No. 2 scoring threat, and the Knicks responded with a third-place finish in the loaded Eastern Conference. Glen Rice and the 54-28 Hornets were up first; the Knicks dominated, sweeping the first round match-up. In the semifinals, the Knicks took on the No. 2 seed Miami Heat. Heading to Game 5, the Knicks looked in control, up 3-1. However, a fight between the two teams had far-reaching implications: Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Charlie Ward were suspended for Game 6, and Larry Johnson and John Starks were suspended for Game 7. The Knicks lost all three games, dropping the series in seven.
Pictured: The brawl between the Knicks and Heat in the playoffs
With Patrick Ewing sidelined for 56 games, the Knicks leaned heavily on Allan Houston and Larry Johnson, backing into the postseason as the No. 7 seed, just a game ahead of the ninth-place Washington Wizards. New York shocked the 55-27 Miami Heat in the first round, 3-2. Next was a match-up with Indiana. Patrick Ewing returned from injury for the series’ final four games, but Indiana had little trouble eliminating the Knicks, 4-1.
Pictured: Allan Houston, Charles Oakley and Mark Jackson
Michael Jordan was out of basketball (again), meaning the Eastern Conference was up for grabs. In a lockout-shortened schedule, the Knicks squeaked into the postseason, just one game ahead of the ninth-place Hornets. For the second straight year, they shocked the Heat, eliminating the No. 1 seed in five games. After sweeping the Hawks in the Eastern semis, the Knicks got a rematch with Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers. In a dramatic series that included Larry Johnson’s four-point play to win Game 3, it was Reggie Miller that folded in the clutch. With the Pacers down, 3-2, Miller scored just eight points on 3-for-18 shooting in Game 6, and the Knicks advanced. Still in search of their first NBA championship since 1973, the Knicks were dominated by David Robinson, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals, falling 4-1.
Pictured: Larry Johnson and Antonio Davis
Latrell Sprewell was moved to the starting lineup, joining Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and Charlie Ward. The starting five carried New York to its sixth 50-win season in nine years. Seeded third in the East, the Knicks swept the Raptors, then upset the No. 2 Miami Heat in seven. For the final time in their 1990s rivalry, the Knicks met the Indiana Pacers. Both teams defended their home courts through five games, sending the No. 1 Pacers back to The Garden with a 3-2 series lead. There, in Game 6, Reggie Miller had a vintage performance, scoring 34 points on 10-for-19 shooting, including 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Pacers won, 93-90.
Pictured: Latrell Sprewell
Gone was Knicks great Patrick Ewing, dealt in the offseason to the Seattle SuperSonics. Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell and a young Marcus Camby took the reins, guiding the Knicks to a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division. In the first round, the Knicks ran into Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors. Despite Houston’s 20.8 points on 59.4 percent shooting, the Raptors won in five. The Knicks didn’t make the playoffs the next year, ending their postseason run at 14 straight trips.
Pictured: Allan Houston
Despite three different coaches running the show — Don Chaney, then Herb Williams, and finally Lenny Wilkens — newly-acquired Stephon Marbury and the Knicks snuck into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. They were swept by the Nets in the first round.
Pictured: Stephon Marbury and Richard Jefferson
The Knicks brought in primetime free agent Amar’e Stoudemire in the offseason, then traded for superstar Carmelo Anthony at the deadline and made the playoffs to end the second longest postseason drought in franchise history. Hobbled by injuries, the appearance was short-lived. Point guard Chauncey Billups played in just one game, Stoudemire was severely limited by a back injury, and the Celtics swept the Knicks in the first round.
Pictured: Paul Pierce (left), Carmelo Anthony and Jermaine O'Neal
Another trip to the NBA playoffs, another appearance marred by injury. While they made the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in over a decade, and won a playoff game for the first time since 2001, the Knicks again failed to make it out of the first round, falling to the Heat in five games. Jeremy Lin, who sparked the team with his determined play during the regular season, was sidelined for the entire series with a knee injury; Iman Shumpert tore his ACL in a Game 1 loss; and Amar'e Stoudemire missed a game after injuring his hand punching a fire extinguisher.
Pictured: Amar'e Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade
For the first time since 1994, the Knicks won the Atlantic Division title to lock up their third straight playoff berth. The Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics in six games in the first round, marking their first postseason series victory since 1999. But the Knicks couldn't find the basket in the second round against the Indiana Pacers. Their No. 2 option in J.R. Smith went on a terrible shooting slump--he shot only 28 percent from the field and 23 percent from three-point range in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jason Kidd didn't score a single bucket (0-for-8 FG, 0-for-6 3P) in the series.
Pictured: Carmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson