Tonight we play the Celtics, a team widely regarded as the conference’s number one title contender that is also going through a dramatic midseason roster change. Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer gives his take on the Knicks recent play (awful) and what we can expect from them in the playoffs against possible first round opponent Chicago (zilch).
However, the Knicks might be backing themselves into an appearance in the second round of the playoffs. The team has fallen behind the ever-improving Philadelphia 76ers, taking to the seventh seed in the Eastern playoff bracket. Though the Chicago Bulls are currently duking it out for the top spot in the East, there is a good chance Chicago will finish with the second seed, especially as the currently top-seeding Celtics get healthier and deeper between now and the third week of April. This pits New York against Chicago in the first round in what would be a dream matchup for the NBA. And though the Bulls feature a team-based defensive-first attitude that New York can only dream to even aspire to, the Knicks have knocked off the Bulls twice this season by eight points each time, in games that weren’t as close as the final score would suggest. An upset win over Chicago only takes place if the Knicks are spreading the floor, which has become increasingly harder since the Anthony trade despite his way-better-than-his-career-average New York mark of 42 percent from long range. And the Knicks don’t have a hope in this world should they come through with the sort of defensive effort that we saw against the Bucks on Sunday. No team, even considering it’s offense-always reputation, should play that way. There is always the chance that this could be the low point. Or Anthony could be right — it may take a full training camp before we see the best of what this rotation has to offer. Internal development better happen, because the team is capped out and first round picks are few and far between.
I still feel like the only team New York matches up nicely with is Miami, and for this reason alone they should really buckle down and make a run at that sixth seed. Right now they’re 0.5 games back of Philadelphia with a slew of “less talented” teams remaining on the schedule. After losing in such embarrassing fashion to Detroit and Milwaukee Carmelo might take comfort in day dreaming about next year, but if the guys can focus in over these next couple of weeks and string together some wins, maybe the Knicks could pull off a magical first round upset. This is obvious wishful thinking; if you’re as sad as I am, let this video serve as brief distraction (courtesy of Posting and Toasting).