It was a good Sunday for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony had his best game of the season, scoring 43 points, including two long three pointers in the final seconds of the 4th quarter and overtime–the former forced overtime, and the latter won the game.
That the Knicks did it over the team with the best record in the league, the Chicago Bulls, made it that much more impressive.
Later that night, with the Philadelphia 76ers falling to the Boston Celtics, the Knicks even moved up to the 7th seed in the playoff picture…for now.
There are 18 days to go in the regular season, and things are about to get wild, as only one game separates the 7th seeded Knicks and the 9th seeded Milwaukee Bucks, with the 76ers in between.
Basically, three teams are fighting for the final two playoff spots, and each team has exactly 10 games left, including matchups against each other.
Unfortunately, the Knicks have undoubtedly the toughest schedule of the three, and given the bipolar nature of the Knicks season thus far–they went from being the hottest team in the league and the talk of the nation one week to a depressing losing streak the next, remember?–Knicks fans shouldn’t be overconfident about a playoff spot yet.
As you can see from the schedules, the Knicks have another game against Chicago, and despite today’s victory, it took an uncharacteristic two missed free throws by Derrick Rose for the Knicks to squeak out a victory. It’s going to be a tough game.
Then comes a crucial, crucial, road game against the Bucks that will have major implications, followed by games against an elite Miami Heat, a solid Atlanta Hawks team, and matchups with the surging Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Bucks have only one elite opponent lined up (Oklahoma City Thunder) and six of their final 10 are played at home. The Sixers have the easiest remaining schedule on paper, including three games against the crappy New Jersey Nets, but they play a whopping 8 road games. The Knicks have 6 games on the road.
No matter how you look at it, the Knicks’ schedule is the toughest.
Needless to say, given the hype and expectations coming into the season, missing the playoffs would be deemed a colossal disappointment. And if they make the playoffs, it’s arguable that the Knicks would be better off as the 8th seed than the 7th seed, since the Bulls and Heat are pretty much respectively locked into the top and second seed.
The Knicks have gone 1-2 against the Bulls and 0-2 against the Heat so far, but all the Bulls games were tightly contested. The Miami games? One-sided butt-whuppings by LeBron and co, especially the February 23 game that humbled Linsanity.
So yeah, the Knicks should gun for the 8th spot. Remember, the last time there was a lockout-shortened season, the 8th seeded Knicks went all the way to the Finals…