The Knicks qualified at 27-23. Coached by Jeff Van Gundy, the Knicks had acquired Latrell Sprewell and Marcus Camby in the off-season. New York had to overcome injuries to Sprewell (13 missed games) and Patrick Ewing (12) to sneak into the playoffs. The Knicks blew out the Heat by 20 points at Miami in Game 1 and posted a 24-point blowout at a crazed Madison Square Garden in Game 3. New York had a chance to close out the series in Game 4, but blew an eight-point lead and lost by 15. The decisive Game 5 was a defensive struggle in Miami and the Heat led by one with 2.7 seconds left. Knicks guard Allan Houston attempted a running one-hander that bounced in with 0.8 seconds remaining and gave the Knicks a 78-77 victory. New York defeated Atlanta 4-0 in the second round, beat Indiana 4-2 in the Eastern Conference final and remains the only No. 8 seed ever to advance to the NBA Finals, where the Knicks lost 4-1 to San Antonio. →2007 — No. 8 Golden State def. No. 1 Dallas (4-2): The Mavericks were the league’s premier team. They finished 67-15 (.817) for the NBA’s sixth-best regular-season record ever, despite losing their first four games of the season and four of their last 10. Between those two stretches, the Mavs went an astounding 61-7 (.897). Meanwhile, the make-shift, free-wheeling Warriors qualified at 42-40 thanks to winning nine of its last 10 games and had swept Dallas 3-0 during the regular season. Golden State had finished last in the Pacific Division the previous season and revamped its 2006-07 roster with an eight-player trade with the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 17. The Warriors dealt Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod in exchange for Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell, who joined Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins. Golden State led the league that season in pace factor (number of possessions per 48 minutes). The Mavs won the playoff opener at American Airlines Center, but dropped Game 2 by 13. The Warriors swept the next two games in Oakland and had a chance to clinch back in Dallas. The Mavericks survived Game 5, but couldn’t survive two days later at Oracle Arena as the Warriors rolled to a 111-86 victory to advance to the second round against Utah and losing 4-1. John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.