The Knickerbockers are back in the NBA playoffs. Game 1 against Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers is Saturday in Cleveland.

It has been a good season. Twelve games over .500, the 5-seed in the Eastern Conference, a borderline MVP season from Jalen Brunson, potential Sixth Man of the Year Immanuel Quickley, a boatload of future first-round picks, et cetera. If Julius Randle can make it back this weekend, the Knicks have a real chance to upset the Cavs.

And if they don’t? That is OK, according to ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins. Because the future will remain bright and there is reason to believe other star players will begin gravitating toward Brunson and Madison Square Garden.

HOWEVA … Stephen A. Smith does not agree.

“We have been suffering for decades,” he shrieked on Monday’s edition of “First Take.”

“You are not going to convince me … They’d better win this damn series.”

Do the Knicks have to win the series? No. Perkins is probably right. This is the start for them. Just getting to the postseason and acquitting themselves well would be good enough. But would it be better if they win the series? Duh. Because they have not won one in a decade, for starters. And if they don’t beat the Cavs — or at least take them to Game 7 — there will be many who write this off as just the latest false start. So I see Smith’s argument as well.

Sports television debating. There is nothing better.

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James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.