The New York Knicks clinched the Atlantic Division on Tuesday night, their first division title since 1994. It's another step, one of many taken in the past few years, toward total closure of some of the franchise's lowest points in the 2000s under the management of Isiah Thomas.
As time goes on and Carmelo Anthony continues to put up numbers like he has been--he's averaging 40.6 points per game in five games so far this month--the Knicks are putting rotten memories behind them and reminding fans more of the electricity that surrounded the team as recently as the '90s, when Patrick Ewing filled up the paint and the Knicks made NBA Finals appearances in 1994 and 1999.
With the Knicks, they've taken baby steps to get back to prime time. Just last year the Knicks shook a league-record 13 straight playoff game losses, a stretch that went back to 2001. Still, they lost their first-round series to the Miami Heat, 4-1.
The Knicks' 120-99 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday was the Knicks' 13th win in a row, drawing another line back to the 1993-94 season in which the Knicks lost in the NBA Finals to the Houston Rockets in seven games; the Knicks won 15 straight that year. New York made a run to the Finals as a No. 2 seed that year, which is the same spot this year's Knicks would earn if the season ended today. They sit 2 1/2 games above the Indiana Pacers for the No. 2 seed with five games left.
New York isn't invincible. They've had a pair of four-game losing streaks throughout the season, including one answered immediately with the current 13-and-counting win streak. And any road to return to the Finals for the first time since 1999 would presumably go through Miami. But the Knicks have proven themselves worthy of the accolades given to them this season, the division title they earned for the first time in 19 seasons, and whatever else happens next.