Neither alternative is encouraging for a team that will finish just a few games above .500.
There was a slight possibility that the Knicks could finish 6th in the Eastern Conference Division and avoid those two powerhouses by playing the Indiana Pacers, but that hope was crushed when Orlando hung on for a close win against the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday.
If the Knicks win against the Charlotte Bobcats, or the Philadelphia 76ers lose to the Detroit Pistons, New York will finish with the 7th seed and face off against the Miami Heat and the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. With an overall record of 46-19, the Heat swept the Knicks in their three regular season matchups.
So should they hope to play the Bulls? Not really. Against the conference-leading Bulls, the Knicks also were swept during the season.
Of late, the Knicks have been on an impressive roll, winning 16 of the last 20 games. Carmelo Anthony has been a big part of the Knicks’ momentum, averaging 22.6 points per game.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we just have to be prepared,” Anthony said.
But he’s supposed to say that—it’s one of the game’s oldest clichés.
Anthony does finally have his big man back—Amar’e Stoudemire, averaging 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds, is back in the rotation. The Knicks also have shooting weapons Steve Novak and J.R. Smith coming off the bench, so maybe their plight isn’t so hopeless.
If anyone should get credit for the Knick surge, perhaps it’s Coach Mike Woodson. Before Mike D’Antoni was replaced with Woodson as the head coach, it was certain that the Knicks weren’t going to the playoffs. Under D’Antoni, the Knicks’ record was 18-24. But the team seems to have a lot more energy and passion under Woodson, who has taken their overall record to 35-30.
So it’s either the Heat or the Bulls for the team from the Big Apple. Either way, the odds are pointing to an early exit for Carmelo and Amar’e.