The New York Knicks are officially playing for seeding. After seven long, disgusting, forgettable, grueling seasons, the Knicks have clinched a playoff spot with six whole games to be played. Don't worry that this is much more a reflection of the horrendous Eastern Conference than it is the Knicks' play, just soak it in. You're allowed, it's been a while. So tonight, when they host the Toronto Raptors, the Knicks enter uncharted waters; an April home game that is essentially meaningless, but for the right reasons.
Well, the game isn't totally meaningless. The Knicks' seeding has yet to be determined, and they'll be scoreboard watching over the final weeks to see if they match up with the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, New York's two most likely first round opponents. It's partially in the Knicks' hands, as they can catch the Philadelphia 76ers for the sixth spot. But at its core, theses final six games aren't about that. The Knicks will likely end up as the 6th or 7th seed.The importance of the Knicks' final stretch is to try and finally find the cohesion and chemistry that has been missing since Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups came to town.
|New York Knicks||76||38-38||.500|
|New Jersey Nets||76||23-53||.303|
The Knicks will try to find that starting tonight. Last game, the Knicks' 123-107 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the combination of Anthony, Billups and Amare Stoudemire all scored over 20 points, as each looked a little more comfortable playing with the others. They are not there yet, but these last six games need to act as a preseason for the Knicks, especially their Big Three. While the team should be cramming defense, we won't expect a Mike D'Antoni coached team to do so. Instead, it will be about finding the right touches for Anthony and Stoudemire. Tonight should be a pretty effective offensive scrimmage, against a mediocre defense such as the Raptors.
Knicks fans are used to being in a wait and see mode at this time of year. In recent years, it's been waiting and seeing how good the draft pick that the Knicks traded away would end up being at the end of the year. Finally, if ever so slightly, things are different.