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NEW YORK — The New York Knicks will return to the NBA Playoffs with the biggest crowds New York sports have since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

MSG Sports announced Thursday that both Games 1 and 2 of the Knickerbockers’ first round series against the Atlanta Hawks have sold out the 15,000-capacity allowed at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks claim 90% of those purchasing tickets are vaccinated. The events will be the largest indoor gatherings for New York State since the start of the pandemic.

For Knicks and Rangers owner James Dolan, this is a sign that it’s time to return toward normal.

“I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” said James Dolan, Executive Chairman of MSG Sports and Executive Chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment. “This overwhelming response by Knicks fans – almost 90% of whom are vaccinated – should silence any doubters. It’s time to start booking events and filling up our schedules, so stay tuned. We want to thank Gov. Cuomo for this leap forward; he knew we could do this – not just for us, but for New York.”

Tickets for the first two playoff contests went on sale for Season Ticket Members on Tuesday afternoon, May 18, followed by general public sale on Wednesday, and were sold out by Thursday morning, May 20.

Following New York State guidelines, fully vaccinated sections do not require social distancing and do not need to wear masks when seated. Children under the age of 16 are permitted to sit in a vaccinated section if they provide proof of a negative antigen or PCR COVID-19 test, or full vaccination. Unvaccinated children must wear masks while seated in a vaccinated section, except while actively eating or drinking.

Non-vaccinated fans will continue to sit in socially distanced seating and maintain mask requirements except while actively eating or drinking. All fans must present valid proof of either full vaccination or a negative Covid-19 antigen or PCR test, taken within 72 hours of the game.

Game 1 of the Knicks-Hawks series is Sunday night. It will be the first postseason game in Manhattan since 2013.