If the Knicks lose to the Sixers tonight, they will be five games back in the Atlantic Division and will almost definitely play Chicago or Miami in the first round of the playoffs (if they make it).If the Knicks beat the Sixers tonight, they will be just three games back with 19 games to play and have a legitimate shot at winning the division and securing a top-4 seed in the East.
So yeah, it’s a big game.
After spending half of a decade rebuilding and assembling a roster of veterans ready to win right away, a first-round playoff exit would be a huge disappointment for New York. To avoid that Chicago/Miami first-round buzzsaw, the Knicks need to pass the Celtics and catch the Sixers in the remaining 20 games.
Here’s what each team’s remaining schedule looks like:
Philly: 10 games against current playoff teams, 8 home games, 1 game against Chicago/Miami
Boston: 12 games against current playoff teams, 9 home games, 4 games against Chicago/Miami
New York: 11 games against current playoff teams, 9 home games, 3 games against Chicago/Miami
Having to make up a three-game deficient in the standings with 19 games to play is a tall, but not impossible order. But making up five games in the standings in 19 games is nearly impossible unless the Sixers completely fall apart.
The Knicks have won four straight games, all by 14 or more points, since Mike D’Antoni got fired a week ago. It’s been all smiles and chest-bumps and discount double-checks at MSG, with Carmelo Anthony even admitting that only started playing hard after D’Antoni was forced out.
But things get real tonight.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.