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Knicks expecting 13K fans for first playoff game in 8 years amid easing COVID restrictions

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With vaccinations widely available and COVID-19 cases dropping, once strict capacity limits at New York venues are loosening.

The timing couldn't be better for the New York Knicks.

With their first playoff game in eight years scheduled for Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks announced on Wednesday that they're planning to admit 13,000 fans to Madison Square Garden. The stands won't be filled to MSG's 19,812 capacity. But they'll be considerably fuller than the regular season, when roughly 2,000 fans per game were allowed to attend starting Feb. 23. 

And with Knicks fans frothing following a COVID-19 winter and a seven-season postseason drought, they'll most certainly be loud.

Spike Lee reacts during the fourth quarter between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Spike Lee, rejoice. The Knicks are back in the playoffs — and so are their fans. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

James Dolan: 'Get your vaccine'

The announcement confirms Knicks owner James Dolan's hope to have fans sitting "shoulder-to-shoulder" for New York's playoff opener. Dolan told The Athletic on Monday that he hoped to have 13,000 fans for Sunday's game.

"We think they're going to go fast," Dolan said of tickets. "Get them, but get your vaccine if you haven't already."

The news should add up to a significant home-court advantage in New York that didn't exist during the regular season. But the Knicks won't be the only team allowing more fans in the playoffs. When they travel to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4, they'll face a Hawks home crowd of 7,625 fans, an increase from the limit of 3,000 seen during the regular season. 

The Hawks also plan to have a section of 500 of fans sitting together courtside. Those seats will be reserved for fans who show proof of vaccination. 

Jazz, 76ers among other teams expected to increase capacity

The Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz are also among the teams expected to increase capacity for the postseason. The 76ers announced a plan to increase home capacity to 50% after allowing roughly 3,000 fans during the second half of the regular season. 

Like the Knicks, the Jazz reportedly plan to allow 13,000 fans for home games after a cap of 5,500 during the regular season. 

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