Fans pumped as the Knicks and Nets are set to kick off their playoff runs
Basketball fever is sweeping the city.
For the first time in NBA history, two New York City teams are in the playoffs during the same season, as both the Knicks and Nets play their first respective postseason games on Saturday, and fans are salivating for the action.
The Knicks will host the Boston Celtics in a 3 p.m. game, the first of a series that will play out under the dark cloud of the Boston Marathon bombings, while the Nets will host the opening game of their series with the Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m.
Both teams are seeded higher than their opponents, though the matchups will likely be hotly contested. Still, some fans are looking ahead to a possible all-NYC series.
"It would be nice to see a showdown between the two," said Kevin Brown, 57, a Knicks fan.
As exciting as an all-NYC playoff matchup would be, each team would need to reach the conference finals to make that happen.
This is the third year in a row the Knicks have made the playoffs, but unlike last year, they're not plagued by injuries. They had a much stronger showing in the latter half of the season this year, said Seth Rosenthal of Knicks blog PostingandToasting.com. Rosenthal said this could be a serious championship run and die-hard Knicks fans echoed that sentiment.
"The Knicks are the main thing, that's it," said James Clark, 53, from Staten Island. "I think we're going to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. It's just a good time to be a Knicks fan."
Rosenthal added that, despite the long-standing and heated rivalry between the Knicks and Celtics, New Yorkers will put their feelings aside and cheer for Boston as it recovers from the bombings.
In Brooklyn, Nets fans are celebrating the team's first trip to the playoffs since moving to the Barclays Center. The team is encouraging people to wear black during the series, and an enormous sign that reads "Hello Playoffs" will hang in the arena.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is already predicting a Nets championship.
"With the loudest, most in-your-face fans in the country 'black[ing] out' Brooklyn, at Barclays Center the Nets are going to 'tame' the Bulls, 'cool' the Heat and knock the Knicks back to the outer borough of Manhattan," Markowitz said in a statement.
Whether either team wins its series, the city will sill score an economic victory. Every Knicks playoff home game brings in some $11 million for businesses, and Josef Szende, executive director for the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, said business around the Barclays Center will boom.
"The foot traffic will be great for us," he said. "It's the best we could have hoped for being next to an arena."