Did the Knicks lose by winning?

It’s a question that won’t be answered for a couple weeks, but theoretically Jalen Brunson’s squad made its life more difficult Sunday by toppling the Bulls in OT, 120-119, and reaching the East’s No. 2 spot.

Their reward is a first-round showdown against either Erik Spoelstra’s Heat or Joel Embiid’s Sixers, the dangerous underdogs of the playoffs.

If the Knicks had lost to the Bulls, they would’ve dropped to third to face the inexperienced Pacers in the opening round.

The No. 8 Heat and No. 7 Sixers face off Wednesday in Philly, with the winner coming to the Garden for Game 1 of the first round.

The good news is that the Knicks secured home-court advantage in the second round — assuming they get there — and will avoid the No. 1 Celtics until the conference finals.

To their credit, the Knicks pushed until the finish line and secured the franchise’s first 50-win campaign since 2013.

They played their best players Sunday (Jalen Brunson, OG Anunoby, Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart all played over 40 minutes). Brunson iced his masterpiece season with 40 points. DiVincenzo added 25 points in 52 minutes.

Other teams didn’t seem so eager to get the second seed.

The Cavaliers also had a chance but clearly wanted nothing to do with a potential matchup against Miami or the Sixers. They tanked the final game by sitting Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, finishing fourth for a first-round matchup against the No. 5 Magic.

The reeling Bucks would have clinched the second seed with a win Sunday against the Magic. Instead, Doc Rivers’ team dropped its second consecutive, both without an injured Giannis Antetokounmpo. It finished third and will face the Pacers.

The Bulls (39-43) should’ve been playing out the string, having locked up the ninth spot in the East and a play-in tournament showdown against Atlanta. Still, coach Billy Donovan used his regulars and rode veterans Nikola Vucevic (29 points, 42 minutes) and DeMar DeRozan (30 points, 44 minutes).

The final minutes of regulation Sunday were hectic. The Knicks, trailing throughout, recovered from a eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter, even holding a lead with two minutes left.

Brunson could’ve won the game at the buzzer with an off-balance and contested jumper that bounced in and out of the hoop.

In OT, the Knicks got a boost from backup center Precious Achiuwa, who scored all four of his points in the extra period — including a big put-back dunk that gave the Knicks a four-point lead with one minute remaining.

2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.