Home News Home Stretch: Knicks’ regular-season games winding down with playoff seeds in limbo

Home Stretch: Knicks’ regular-season games winding down with playoff seeds in limbo

Friday’s matchup between the Knicks and San Antonio Spurs marked game No. 73 of the regular season.

There are officially 10 games left on the schedule until the playoffs begin on April 20.

And so far, the Knicks — shorthanded and all — have stayed out of the Play-In Tournament in position to secure home-court advantage as a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.

As of tipoff in San Antonio, heavily favored against a lottery-bound Spurs team, the Knicks owned sole possession of the East’s No. 3 seed. They are a half-game ahead of the fourth-place Cleveland Cavaliers, two games ahead of the No. 5 Orlando Magic and a full four games in front of No. 6 Indiana.

The Knicks were also just a game-and-a-half behind the second-place Milwaukee Bucks before they tipped off against the Spurs on Friday.

And with 10 games left on the schedule, both a push to second place and a plummet to sixth are on the table for a team holding the fort together while its stars remain on the mend.

While paint-protecting big man Mitchell Robinson returned to the rotation in a bench capacity in Tuesday’s victory over the Toronto Raptors, injury timelines for both OG Anunoby (right elbow injury maintenance) and Julius Randle (dislocated right shoulder) remain unclear.

Which gives a shorthanded Knicks team a tall order down the home stretch of the regular season, where every win or loss has playoff implications.

Not to mention it would behoove the Knicks to finish second or third and not fall to fourth in the East, as the winner of the first-round matchup between the fourth and fifth seed advances to face the top-ranked Boston Celtics in the second round.


Five of the Knicks’ final 10 games of the regular season are against teams with winning records, which means the Knicks — who are 26-2 this season against teams with losing records — have a baseline of .500 down the home stretch.

Those teams with losing records include the Spurs on Friday, three games against the Chicago Bulls and an April 12 matchup against the Nets.

Of note: the ninth-place Bulls are both unlikely to win enough games to move up to eighth place or lose enough games to fall below 10th out of the Play-In Tournament picture.

And nothing would vindicate the Nets in a losing season more than a victory over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden which simultaneously weakens the cross-bridge rivals playoff footing.

The above-.500 opponents include:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and an Oklahoma City Thunder team a half-game out of the West’s No. 1 seed at Madison Square Garden on Sunday
  • A Tuesday road matchup in Miami against a Heat team looking to catch the sixth-seeded Pacers. Miami is one game behind Indiana for the East’s final shoo-in playoff spot
  • A desperate Sacramento Kings team fighting its way out of the Play-In Tournament. The Kings are three games behind West’s No.4 seed but sit eighth in the conference as of Friday afternoon and visit The Garden on Thursday.
  • An April 7 date with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and the No. 2-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. This game is the second stop in a four-game road trip and the Knicks’ third game in four nights
  • And a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview on the road in Boston against the Celtics on April 11

And of these teams, the Knicks:

  • Lost to the Thunder, 129-120, on Dec. 27
  • Won the season series, 2-0, against the Heat with the finale looming next Tuesday
  • Defeated the Kings in Sacramento by seven on March 16
  • Trail the season series, 1-3, against the Bucks in a rare fifth in-season game on the schedule thanks to the In-Season Tournament
  • And have yet to record a victory in four tries against the Celtics with Game 5 three games prior to the end of the season

The Knicks also own the tiebreaker against the No. 4 Cavaliers, who have also played one more game than the Knicks as of Friday afternoon.

The Knicks need to win nine of their 10 remaining games to guarantee the Cavs don’t leapfrog them in the standings in the event Cleveland wins out the rest of the way.


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