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The Heat–Knicks met in the postseason four years in a row from 1997–2000, with the Knicks winning three of those series and the Heat winning one. The teams most recently met in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, which the Heat won in five games.
The Heat–Knicks rivalry was one of the fiercest in the NBA, and Sports Illustratedconsidered it the third-best NBA rivalry. Prior to the 1997 NBA Playoffs, no two NBA teams had ever met in the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, with each series going to the maximum possible number of games. The aggressive nature of those four series, defensive struggles marked by numerous foul calls, and intensely physical play, can be traced to the highly defensive style of Pat Riley, former coach of both teams and the rivalries' central figure.
1999 Eastern Conference First Round
The lockout-shortened the 1998–99 season. Miami beat the Pacers and Magic to reach the top of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks only got through the 50-game season with a 27–23 record, barely qualifying for the playoffs as a #8 seed. This put the odds in Miami's favor, as an #8 seed had defeated a #1 seed in the first round just once in NBA history. However, the Knicks won Game 1 95–75 in Miami. The Heat came back with an 83–73 victory in Game 2 to tie the series at 1. Back home for Game 3, New York blew Miami out 97–73 to take a 2–1 series lead. The Knicks had a chance to clinch at home in Game 4, as they held an 8-point lead until Miami charged back to win 87–72 to take it to the limit. Game 5 was a defensive struggle all the way. Miami held a 77–76 lead with 4.5 seconds left, but Allan Houston hit a running 1-hander that bounced off the front rim, off the backboard, and in with 8 tenths left to give New York a 78–77 victory.
The win propelled an improbable run for the #Knicks in the playoffs. They swept the Hawks in the semifinals and defeated the Pacers in 6 to clinch their second Eastern Conference Title in five years and advance to the 1999 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Spurs. In doing that, the Knicks became the first 8th-seeded team in NBA history to reach the #NBAFinals