At noon today, the New York Knicks will play host to the Milwaukee Bucks in the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. Here’s what I’ll be watching for:
Six in a row: With a win, the Knicks will have a season-best six-game winning streak, which, if nothing else, is a sign of just how disappointing the season has been. Last March, the Knicks were busy winning 13 straight games and securing the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
This year? If the Knicks were to somehow extend their current winning streak to 13 games, they would still find themselves seven games below .500.
Still, New York sits in ninth place in the East and is within striking distance of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot. A Knicks’ win and Hawks’ loss today would reduce the gap for the last postseason berth to just two-and-a-half games.
Beginning of an era? According to ESPN sources, the Knicks agreed to terms with Phil Jackson on Friday, allowing the 13-time NBA Champion to become the team president.
Rumors of Jackson taking a position in New York’s front office gained some real momentum last week, but it didn’t become completely clear until Thursday that he would likely be joining the team. Phil doesn’t have past experience with this role in an organization, but one thing can’t be denied: the man knows basketball.
And, needless to say, it will be interesting to see how head coach Mike Woodson handles the situation, as some have already begun to speculate that the Zen Master will take over as coach before the start of next season.
Tyson’s return: After missing games against the Sixers and Celtics this week due to personal reasons, center Tyson Chandler is expected to start for the Knicks on Saturday.
New York was able to win both of the games Chandler missed and could probably manage without him today against the league-worst Bucks, but it won’t hurt to get the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year re-acclimated before the Indiana Pacers visit Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Prediction: New York Knicks 103, Milwaukee Bucks 86
The Knicks have their sights set on the playoffs, and I can’t envision them allowing the Bucks–the team with the NBA’s worst record–to get in their way, especially not at MSG.