The last day of the regular season has arrived and there are few certainties when it comes to the Knicks’ opening-round opponent.

It could be Jimmy Butler and the Heat, Joel Embiid and the 76ers and a host of others.

They could play their way into the second seed or fall to fourth.

The one guarantee is that Tom Thibodeau’s team will begin the postseason at the Garden.

“That’s huge,” Josh Hart said. “I heard the lights are really bright at MSG during that time. It’s big for us.”

That felt like a reference to comments made by Jarrett Allen last year, after the Knicks took down the Cavaliers in five games, and the former Nets center said, “Even for me, the lights were brighter than expected.”

When asked if Hart was referring to a quote from a specific player from last year’s postseason, he said: “I just heard the lights are bright. That’s something that we really need. The bright lights in the playoffs.”

Trolling or not, the Knicks performed well at MSG in the playoffs last year, going 4-1.

They host the Bulls on Sunday, and with a win over Chicago and a loss by the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Bucks in Orlando against the Magic, they would finish second.

Antetokounmpo is dealing with a strained left calf.

It would be their highest playoff seed since 2012.

“We want to go through the finish,” Thibodeau said. “That’s the way we’re looking at it and we want to improve, play our best.”

A loss Sunday coupled with a win by the Cavaliers over the dreadful Hornets and a Bucks loss, and the Knicks would be fourth.

Cleveland would win the three-way tiebreaker courtesy of being the Central champion and the Bucks own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Knicks, giving them the end if that were to happen.

That would potentially force the Knicks to have to go through the powerhouse Celtics in the second round. If the Knicks win, the worst they could be is third.

The Knicks’ opponent is even harder to project.

One game separates the fifth-place Magic from the eighth-place Heat.

The Magic, Pacers and 76ers are all tied with 46-35 records.

If it remains that way, the Magic would be the fifth seed, with the Pacers sixth and 76ers seventh, facing the Heat in the opening round of the play-in tournament.

Now that Embiid is back after missing more than two months with a knee injury, the 76ers and Heat would, on paper, present the biggest challenges to the Knicks.

The Heat showed last year seeding doesn’t matter. They reached the final as the eighth seed, beating the Knicks in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals after upsetting the No. 1 Bucks.

All of the games that impact the Knicks (including theirs) start at 1 p.m, so they won’t know how it all shakes out until their game is finished.

Their focus is on beating the Bulls and completing their first 50-win season since 2012-13.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to have to show up and go to work in the playoffs either way. So for us it really doesn’t matter,” Hart said. “I think we lost to Orlando three times this year. We can’t think about that too much. We’ve got to make sure we take care of our business and whatever happens, happens.”

Share.
2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.