March 20th 1981: Knicks clinch home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a victory against the Indiana Pacers
The Knicks clinched home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a 110-107 victory against the Indiana Pacers. Bill Cartwright hit two go-ahead free throws to put the Knicks up 106-105 with a minute remaining in the game. Micheal Ray Richardson hit a crucial three pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the same to seal the victory.
Cartwright & Richardson both led the Knicks with a combined 50 points. Richardson played 46 minutes and also had 11 assists and 4 steals. The victory marked the Knicks’ 5th straight and was also the 5th straight game where the team shot more than 50% from the field.
The victory set the stage for the Knicks to host either the Indiana Pacers or the Chicago Bulls beginning on March 31st 1981. The 1980-81 season was the last where the regular season ended before the end of March. The Knicks eventually hosted the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, but were swept in the first round a best-of-three playoff series. The NBA playoffs eventually expanded in the 1983-84 season to incorporate 16 teams as well as expanding the first round to a best-of-five series.