CHICAGO — There’s a week left in the Knicks season and their playoff possibilities are more complicated than the Kardashian family tree.

They can still finish anywhere from second to eighth, a variance that makes the next four games both highly consequential and utterly unpredictable.

With the NBA schedule going dark on Solar Eclipse Monday, it’s a good time to explain what’s at stake in the final four games.

Here’s a breakdown of every angle:

What are the standings?

Boston 62-16, —

Milwaukee 47-31, 15 GB

Orlando 46-32, 16 GB

New York 46-32, 16 GB

Cleveland 46-33, 16.5 GB

Indiana 45-34, 17.5 GB

Philadelphia 44-35, 18.5 GB

Miami 43-35, 19 GB

Who wins the tiebreakers?

The Knicks own the tiebreakers over the Cavs and Sixers.

They lose tiebreakers against the Bucks, Magic, Pacers and Heat.

What happens if the Knicks are tied with multiple teams?

Well, it’s complicated. But here are the top criteria to break a three- or four-team tiebreaker:

1. Division winner

2. Better winning percentage in all head-to-head games among the tied teams

3. Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if all tied teams are in the same division)

4. Conference winning percentage

We can’t say for sure where the Knicks stack up in specific three- or four-team tie because the Central and Southeast divisions aren’t yet determined. But generally, it’s fair to say they’re at a disadvantage because they have no shot of winning the division (thanks, Celtics). For the second criteria, here are their final records against the applicable teams: 2-3 vs. the Bucks; 1-3 vs. the Magic; 2-1 vs. the Cavs; 3-1 vs. the Sixers, 1-2 vs. the Pacers; 1-2 vs. the Heat.

Who do the Knicks play?

at Bulls on Tuesday

The Bulls are motivated to stay above the Hawks in the East to maintain the ninth spot, therefore earning a home game in the play-in tournament. They’re one game up on Atlanta and own the tiebreaker, so it’s not a do-or-die contest for Chicago — just pretty important. The Bulls pounded the Knicks on Friday at the United Center, but there are reasons to believe Tom Thibodeau’s squad will have a better showing Tuesday. Why? The Friday contest was the second game of a back-to-back for the Knicks, who flew from New York to face a Bulls squad that was coming off three days off. Also, Josh Hart was ejected in the first quarter of that game. A big question for the Bulls is the status of Alex Caruso, who didn’t play in Sunday’s loss to the Magic because of an injured ankle. Caruso is the key for the Bulls to slowing down Brunson.

at Celtics on Thursday

This would be a Knicks loss under normal circumstances, but the Celtics have nothing left to play for. They long ago clinched the top record in the Eastern Conference, and last week locked up home court through the NBA Finals. It’s not clear yet how Boston coach Joe Mazzulla will handle the meaningless rest of his season, but resting his top players should be on the table — especially after Tuesday’s nationally televised game against the Bucks.

vs. Nets on Friday

The easy one. The Nets are mathematically eliminated and playing out the string of a lost season. It’s that time of year when a fan base has to pretend that players like Noah Clowney and Cam Thomas are going to be good.

vs. Bulls on Sunday

The matinee on the final game of the season could mean everything or nothing for either team. The good news for the Knicks is that there’s a good chance the Bulls won’t care about this game. Their two games prior are against the tanking Wizards and Pistons. And they’re essentially up two games on the Hawks for the ninth spot because of the aforementioned tiebreaker.

Trending. …

  • The Bucks are falling with four straight defeats and six losses in their last seven. They also have the toughest schedule remaining: vs. Celtics, vs. Magic, at Thunder, at Magic.
  • The Sixers are moving up since the return of Joel Embiid with five straight wins and the easiest schedule — vs. Pistons, vs Magic, vs. Nets.
  •  The Cavs are reeling with four losses in their last five games. But they also have two gimmes in their remaining three games — against the Grizzlies and Hornets (although they recently lost to Charlotte).
  • The Heat returned Tyler Herro recently and are integrating him into a dangerous team.
  • The Magic control their destiny with two games remaining against the Bucks. Win out and they’re the second-seed. However, Franz Wagner hurt his ankle in the last game and is questionable for Tuesday’s contest against the Rockets.
  • The Pacers are on the upswing with four wins in their last five games. They should also breeze Tuesday in Toronto. Then they have a huge game Friday in Cleveland.

Best-case scenario for Knicks

They go 4-0 for their first 50-win season in 11 years. They’d then get the second-seed if the Bucks go 2-2 (or worse) and the Magic go 3-1 (or worse). Of course, the second-seed could also mean a first-round showdown against the Heat or Sixers. They do not want to see Erik Spoelstra or Joel Embiid that quickly.

Worst-case scenario for Knicks

They go 0-4 and drop all the way to eighth, thus requiring a victory in the play-in tournament to get to the playoffs.

Share.
2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.