Carmelo Anthony won his first scoring title when he and the Thunder's Kevin Durant both sat out their games. The Knicks beat Atlanta 98-92 without Anthony, and Chicago took the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Hawks settled for No. 6.
The playoffs will open Saturday with New York hosting Boston, and Chicago visiting the Nets in the first postseason game in Brooklyn. Defending champion and top-seeded Miami hosts Milwaukee on Sunday, when the Hawks visit the Indiana Pacers.
Also in the West, No. 3 Denver, a league-best 38-3 at home, hosts No. 6 Golden State on Saturday.
Anthony finished with 28.7 points per game in becoming the first Knicks player since Bernard King in 1984-85 to win the scoring title. The Knicks went 54-28, their best season since going 57-25 in 1996-97.
"He's just been solid all the way across the board in everything he's done for this team and that's why we're in the position we're in today," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
Anthony said it's been a fun season, and his best, but the first playoff series will be a key test of how far the Knicks have come as a team.
"It's a big playoff series," he said. "I did envision us being at the top, one or two in the Eastern Conference. I did envision us winning our division eventually, but right now this playoff series is very important for myself, it's very important for us as a team, as a city, as an organization. I mean, we're looking forward to this series."
New York won 15 of 16 late in the season to take its first Atlantic Division title since 1994. With Anthony playing out of his normal position as a power forward, the Knicks have surrounded him with more shooters and built the league's most dangerous 3-point offense while also assembling a top-10 defense.
"His overall game is so much better than it was a year ago in terms of playing both ends, and rebounding and giving up the ball when he's double-teamed and still scoring," Woodson said.
"I just think his game has just grown in every area and his teammates have benefited from it and he's benefiting from it, too, because it goes both ways I think."
Anthony had a franchise-record six straight 35-point games down the stretch, blowing past Durant and becoming the first Knick since newly elected Hall-of-Famer Bernard King in 1984-85 to win the scoring title.
He's taking and making better shots, hitting nearly 56 percent while averaging 38.6 points and 10.6 rebounds in a seven-game stretch before scoring 25 in only three quarters against the Pacers on Sunday.
The No. 2 seed in the East, the Knicks beat Miami three times and are perhaps the best hope of giving the Heat a challenge in the playoffs. Anthony has won the conference's last two player of the week awards and seems likely to end LeBron James' season-long run as East player of the month, but only a title will get Anthony into his Olympic teammate's class.