by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

The year was 2004, when Isiah Thomas sauntered over to center court at Madison Square Garden, and triumphantly declared, “Welcome to the Playoffs.”

Nothing that silly or overwrought took place at MSG last night, as New York qualified for the postseason tournament for the first time since ’04.

The expectations for this current team are much higher — they were not only expected to make the Playoffs, but to do something meaningful once there.

From the NY Daily News:

[Chauncey] Billups, in fact, once had a streak of seven straight appearances in a conference finals. His attitude Sunday night was essentially, “Yeah, so we made the playoffs. Aren’t we supposed to do this?” “It’s crazy to think that a storied franchise like the Knicks went seven years without making it,” Billups added. “Every year I never think ‘I just want to make the playoffs.’ I go into every season thinking, ‘How far can we go this year.’”

“This is exactly where I expected to be… in the playoffs,” Amar’e Stoudemire said following the Knicks’ 123-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night at the Garden. “This was the goal when I signed here. I sat down with Mr. Dolan and said this is our plan. The plan has come into full motion and now it is time to take the momentum into the playoffs.”

For now, it’s time for the Knicks and their fanbase to celebrate the end of a long and miserable drought.

Currently the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks will likely battle either Miami or Boston in the first round of the postseason. No one reasonably believes they’ll beat either team, but Knicks fans and media do expect them to make things interesting, at the very least.