The real challenge for the New York Knicks begins tonight when they face the Brooklyn Nets. They are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. One win away from the Atlanta Hawks, who hold the eighth and final playoff seed.
However, the Knicks will need to work harder than the Hawks en route to the postseason. Their final seven games is against teams that currently hold a playoff spot. In the meantime, Atlanta will face a slightly easier schedule, including games versus the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers.
Since both teams have 32 wins each, this race could go down to the final game of the season. Disregarding the tie-breaker scenario, Atlanta has a two-game cushion since the Knicks have played two more games at this point of the season.
Based on Atlanta’s head-to-head record against opposing teams in their remaining schedule, the Hawks have an advantage over five of the teams and could end the year with a 37-45 record. This would go against the Knicks because every team New York will face leads in the head-to-head column right now, but they can split or win series in six of their next seven games.
The Knicks will need to win at least six games due to the tie-breaking conference record between both teams. Or else New York will lose the tie-breaker based on each teams’ conference record.
New York will have to rely on its slow-moving but promising momentum throughout the season. Last month it had an impressive 11-5 record that included its big eight-game win streak. Even J.R. Smith‘s scoring had progressed over the months. He averaged 11.7 points per game in November and gradually increased to 15.5 points in March.
Since the Knicks struggled for most of the season, they may need to rely on their momentum and hope for some luck. Hey, if it helped the New York Giants win Super Bowl XLII, the Knicks can at least dream about entering the playoffs!