24/05/2024

Knicks return to site of playoff failure on shaky ground to face Heat

Hace 2 meses

Knicks return to site of playoff failure on shaky ground to face Heat

There’s less on the line than a Game 6 of the conference semis, but the Knicks aren’t in position to concede nights or get pounded by the Heat again.

There’s less on the line than a Game 6 of the conference semis, but the Knicks aren’t in position to concede nights or get pounded by the Heat again.

MIAMI — Roughly 11 months after they were eliminated in South Beach, the Knicks will finally return for Tuesday’s matchup against their playoff conquerors.

There’s less on the line than a Game 6 of the conference semis, but the Knicks aren’t in position to concede nights or get pounded by the Heat again.

Their spot in the standings is tenuous and jumbled, their margin of error slim and exacerbated by injuries.

The Knicks (44-30), losers of two straight heartbreakers, are in the middle of a six-team cluster in the East that’s best exemplified by the ends of the spectrum: They’re three games behind the second-seeded Bucks, and three games ahead of the seventh-seeded Heat.

Josh Hart and the Knicks lost to the Heat in the NBA playoffs last season. AP

A couple steps in either direction will define this regular season with just eight games remaining.

Heading into Monday, Tom Thibodeau’s squad was clutching the fourth spot, one game ahead of the Magic.

It’s a good position considering they’d get get home-court advantage in the first round, and the opponent could be either the inexperienced Magic or inexperienced Pacers.

But, again, it’s shaky.

A defeat Tuesday to their longtime rivals would tilt them more to the play-in tournament than the second-seed that they were threatening to snatch from Milwaukee only about a week ago.

The good news, according to center Isaiah Hartenstein, is that the Knicks feel they are better equipped to handle Miami’s bullyball.

If you remember, the Knicks were out-schemed and out-hustled in the playoffs by the Heat.

It was the opposite of the first round, when the Knicks punked the Cavaliers.

“Erik Spoelstra is a great coach,” Hartenstein said. “He had a lot of good schemes against us. But I think they just did more kind of what we did to Cleveland. They did that a little bit to us, but I think coming into it now we are just more ready and play more together. I feel like last year I wasn’t as aggressive as I should’ve been with my stuff. I think that’s something new that we have.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has guided the Heat to the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed entering Monday night. AP
Knicks star Jalen Brunson USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

As Hartenstein alluded, he was a nonfactor and a backup in that Heat series averaging 2.2 points and four rebounds.

The Knicks’ centers were dominated by Bam Adebayo and even Cody Zeller.

Now Hartenstein’s the anchor of the defense and averaging 13.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in his last seven games.

The bad news for the Knicks, however, is that they have the hardest remaining schedule of any team in the East playoff picture.

Facing the Heat is just the start.

Below, we’ll compare their schedule and situation to the next seven teams in the East after the top-seeded Celtics, who have already clinched their position.

The strength of schedule ranking is before Monday’s games and goes from hardest (No. 1) to easiest (No. 7).

Bucks

Record: 47-27 (11 GB of Celtics)

Remaining schedule: at Wizards; vs. Grizzlies; vs. Raptors; vs. Knicks; vs. Celtics; vs. Magic; at Thunder; at Magic.

Strength of schedule: No. 2

Prediction: 53-29, 2nd in East

Cavaliers

Record: 45-30 (13.5 GB)

Remaining schedule: at Jazz; at Suns; at Lakers; at Clippers; vs. Grizzlies; vs. Pacers; vs. Hornets.

Strength of schedule: No. 6

Prediction: 49-33, 3rd in East

Knicks

Record: 44-30 (14 GB)

Remaining schedule: at Heat; vs. Kings; at Bulls; at Bucks; at Bulls; at Celtics; vs. Nets; vs. Bulls

Strength of Schedule: No. 1

Prediction: 48-34, 4th in the East

Jalen Brunson and the Knicks have the hardest remaining schedule of any team in the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Magic

Record: 43-31* (15 GB)

Remaining schedule: at Pelicans, at Hornets; vs. Bulls; at Rockets; at Bucks; at Sixers; vs. Bucks

Strength of schedule: No. 3

Prediction: 47-35, 6th in East

Pacers

Record: 42-33* (16.5 GB)

Remaining schedule: at Nets; vs. Thunder; vs. Heat; at Raptors; at Cavs; vs. Hawks

Strength of schedule: No. 5

Prediction: 45-38, 7th in East

Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers have an easier slate of games left compared to other teams in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. AP

Heat

Record: 41-33 (17 GB)

Remaining schedule: vs. Knicks; vs. Sixers; at Rockets; at Pacers, at Hawks; vs. Mavericks; vs. Raptors; vs. Raptors.

Strength of schedule: No. 4

Prediction: 47-35, 5th in East

Sixers

Record: 40-35 (18.5 GB)

Remaining schedule: vs. Thunder; vs. Heat; at Grizzlies; at Spurs; vs. Pistons; vs. Magic; vs. Nets.

Strength of schedule: No. 7

Prediction: 45-37, 8th in East

*Before Monday

Ver noticia en Trending

Temas Relacionados: