The following is an exchange between fictional characters who could have existed the last time the New York Knicks won a playoff game:
Guy #1: I cannot wait for Pearl Harbor.
Guy #2: Oh, Liv Tyler. What a fox.
/Flips through the radio, passes by "Drops of Jupiter" and "Ms. Jackson" before settling on "Hanging by a Moment".
Guy #1: What a song.
Guy #2: Let me tell you, Lifehouse is gonna be churning out hits like this until we have kids.
Guy #1: That's the truth.
That joyous car ride could have taken place on April 29, 2001, when the Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to go up 2-1 in the series. Since then, the Knicks have played 11 playoff games. Here's the carnage:
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4, May 2, 2001: Raptors 100, Knicks 93 (Series tied, 2-2)
Leading 2-1 in the series, The Knicks had a chance to wrap up their first round tilt with the Toronto Raptors. Yes, remember way back when the first round of the NBA Playoffs was a best of five? Well, the Knicks weren't able to close out the pesky Raptors, who got 32 points from Vince Carter and 25 (25!!!) from former Knick Chris Childs to force a deciding Game 5 at MSG.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 5, May 4, 2001: Raptors 93, Knicks 89 (Raptors advance, 3-2)
After a decade of advancing in the playoffs, this one seemed like a foregone conclusion. The Knicks would certainly dust off the upstart Raptors, right? Everyone probably should have saw it coming, given that in this do-or-die game, Glen Rice played 35 minutes off the bench and scored five points on 2-of-10 shooting. Glen. Rice.
Meanwhile, the Raptors had every starter in double figures (a starting lineup that included Childs, Alvin Williams and a rapidly decaying Charles Oakley), while Carter scored 27. The loss ended up serving as the official death knell to the 90's Knicks and one that spurred on the Isiah Thomas era. Good times all around.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 1, April 17, 2004: Nets 107, Knicks 83 (Nets lead, 1-0)
The 2003-04 Knicks were a real doozy. In midseason they acquired Stephon Marbury, giving up so much that even a pick in last year's draft went to the Utah Jazz as part of the deal. The team started out 15-24 under Don "1991 NBA Coach of the Year" Chaney, who was fired by Isiah and replaced by Lenny Wilkens, who did lead them to a respectable 23-19 finish and the seventh seed. They were riddled with injuries; not one player on the roster played in all 82 games, but it's not like it mattered. Notable roster players for the playoffs included Shandon Anderson, Vin Baker and Frank Williams, Mike Sweetney and DerMarr Johnson.
Anyway, on to Game 1. Marbury finished with 13 points and two assists, while Shandon Anderson played 30 minutes and was a -20. For the Nets, Kidd had 14 and 13 assists in the blowout. The Knicks should have just forfeited the series when they allowed Tamar Slay to score a bucket in an NBA Playoff game.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 2, April 20, 2004: Nets 99, Knicks 81 (Nets lead, 2-0)
Nazr Mohammed was a -20 in 15 minutes. Is that even possible? There's a good chance Lenny Wilkens had fallen asleep on the bench at some point; there's no other reasonable explanation for Shandon Anderson taking 15 shots. For those who care, he made only three of them.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 3, April 22, 2004: Nets 81, Knicks 78 (Nets lead, 3-0)
The Nets' big three of Kidd, Martin and Richard Jefferson (wasn't the NBA so awesome back then?) all had big games, with Martin and Jefferson getting double-doubles. This game felt kind of like the Nets toying with the Garden crowd, saying "We'll let you think you have a shot to win at least one game, but really, you don't." Marbury played all 48 minutes (good job!), making seven of 23 shots (bad job). To be honest, I don't remember the game much, except for Frank Williams playing in crunch time, and according to the play-by-play on basketball-reference.com, Hardaway missed a tying three with seven seconds left, Frank Williams got the board, and then Marbury missed two free throws with three seconds left.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4, April 25, 2004: Nets 100, Knicks 94 (Nets advance, 4-0)
Another close one! Those tricky Knicks wouldn't go away quietly. Marbury did his damnedest, scoring 31 points, while Frank Williams played 31 minutes and had 11 points and four assists. Franksanity!!! Anyways, Kenyon Martin dropped 36 and 13 to send the Knicks on their merry way to obscurity.
Fast forward to 2011! In February the Knicks make the Carmelo Anthony deal, and entered the playoffs with a puncher's chance against the Boston Celtics. They hadn't yet mastered the chemistry between Carmelo and Amare Stoudemire (still haven't), but the feeling was that perhaps the Celtics were a little old, and anytime you had scorers on your team like Anthony and Stoudemire, along with a veteran winner like Chauncey Billups, who knew? Whoops.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 1, April 17, 2011: Celtics 87, Knicks 85 (Celtics lead, 1-0)
I was at the TD Garden for this game, which ranks as among the worst in-person sporting events of my life. The Knicks came to play early, mainly through Amare Stoudemire who looked every bit the MVP-type player he was in the first half of the year. Even though the Knicks led by 12 at half, you knew the game wasn't over, but the way it ended was so gut-wrenching that it didn't matter who led by how much at any point in the game.
With 37 seconds left, Toney Douglas nailed a 3-pointer to put the Knicks up 3, 85-82. Boston called timeout, getting the ball in the front court, and here's where Doc Rivers proved he was coaching Mike D'Antoni in circles. The Celtics executed a perfect alley-oop off the inbounds, from Rajon Rondo to Kevin Garnett to cut the lead to one without taking any time off the clock. What happened next were two plays that, if the game were being played in Madison Square Garden in the regular season, would have gone the other way. Anthony was called for a dubious offensive foul, sealing off Paul Pierce while posting up. On the ensuing possession, Kevin Garnett stuck his leg out on a moving screen, tripping Douglas who was guarding Ray Allen. Allen sank the three, Anthony missed the desperation heave, me and my friend Nick were called all sorts of moritfying things while leaving the arena, and in general everything sucked.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 2, April 19, 2011: Celtics 96, Knicks 93 (Celtics lead, 2-0)
I forgot to mention that Chauncey Billups got hurt in Game 1. So there was more sucktitude, and it didn't stop as Stoudemire injured himself by dunking - in pregame warm ups. Anthony basically said, "It's ok, I got this," and played like it. He had 42 points, 17 boards and 6 assists. The problem was, with the game on the line and the Knicks down by one, Anthony tried for assist number seven. He laid the ball off to a wide open Jared Jeffries on the block, but Jeffries couldn't handle it, as Garnett came up with the loose ball.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 3, April 22, 2011: Celtics 113, Knicks 96 (Celtics lead, 3-0)
The Celtics dominated every way possible from the opening tip, silencing a Garden crowd that had waited a decade for a meaningful playoff game. Rondo put up a silly stat line of 15 points, 11 boards and 20 assists, while Pierce and Allen combined for 60 points. Anthony went just 4-of-16 from the field, and Shawne Williams was the Knicks' leading scorer with 17.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4, April 24, 2011: Celtics 101, Knicks 89 (Celtics advance, 4-0)
It was just a formality at this point. Even though the Knicks got a good output from the returning Stoudemire (19 and 12) and Anthony (32 and 9), the Celtics built an early lead and held on. The best part of this game was Anthony Carter leading a late-third quarter and early-fourth quarter rally that gave the Knicks a glimmer of hope. Well, when Anthony Carter is leading your playoff rallies, you're not going to win many games.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 1, April 28, 2012: Heat 100, Knicks 67 (Heat lead, 1-0)
This one is fresh in our minds, so there's no need rehashing it.
If there's anything we can deduce from this exercise, it's that the Knicks are due to win a playoff game.