This has been a nice four game winning streak for the New York Knicks. Considering the state of the team for most of March, nothing should be taken for granted. However, let us keep in mind that three of those four victories have come against the basement dwellers of the Eastern Conference: New Jersey, Cleveland, and Toronto.
There isn't much left to play for on paper for the Knicks. They are going to be the sixth or seven seed, and both spots offer the possibility of either playing Boston or Miami, depending on how they finish their seasons up. However, there is no reason to fold the tent up, especially with four of their five final opponents being playoff teams in their conference.
Yes, it remains to be seen how much effort Chicago and Boston will put into their match-ups with the Knicks next week. However, we do know the Knicks will get the Sixers best shot tonight in Philadelphia as they only hold a 1/2 game lead over them for the 6th seed and have expressed a desire to maintain their current spot. On Friday, they get the Nets, who never lay down for the Knicks and on Sunday they get the Pacers who could still be battling for the #8 seed.
As a 39-38 team that is still figuring out how to play with each other and what their best rotation is, the Knicks should play out the stretch with the intent of building momentum for the playoffs and entering the tournament as an over .500 team. It starts tonight in Philadelphia, with what would be an impressive victory over the Sixers, who have exceeded everyone's expectations this year under head coach Doug Collins.
It will be interesting to see what playoff rotation Mike D'Antoni ultimately settles on. He came out with a full second line-up last night that found success, comprised of Shawne Williams, Sheldon Williams, Toney Douglas, Anthony Carter, and Bill Walker. Ronnie Turiaf has also returned to the line-up and provides some big game experience, if he can ever stay healthy. Where will D'Antoni cut the rotation off?
There is value in having Sheldon Williams and Turiaf rotating through with Jared Jeffries to provide fouls and keep whomever is playing center fresh. We know Douglas is the top scorer coming off the bench and will be a big factor in determining how much noise the Knicks make in the playoffs. Carter provides veteran experience and has been very good in his limited action. Shawne Williams and Walker have been inconsistent at times but can stretch the floor with their three point shooting ability. We know D'Antoni doesn't normally like going beyond eight players but he might have to change his ways with a point guard as old as Chauncey Billups, the recent struggles of Landry Fields, and the constant flux at the center position.