By Coby Eiss
With just six games to go in the regular season, both the Knicks and Nets have locked up their respective playoff spots. This year marks the first time since the 2003-2004 campaign that both the Knicks and Nets have made the postseason. The success of New York’s hometown teams is a sea change from just a few years ago, when neither team could buy themselves a playoff spot. However, considering the Nets will most likely have a second-round date with Miami (assuming they get to the second round), it might be safe to say that the Knicks are the lone New York team with potential to do real damage in this year’s postseason play.
For the Knicks, the magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division is down to one, and could come with a potential win over the Washington Wizards tonight at the world’s most famous arena. They currently sit in second place behind Miami in the Eastern Conference, and could lock up the spot without any help from Indiana or Brooklyn by winning four of their last six games. Considering the final stretch for the Knicks includes dates with Washington, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Atlanta, locking up the second seed should not be a tall task. A spot at the second seed most likely means a first-round match-up with Boston, who they have beaten three out of four teams in the regular season. The match-up could also serve as vengeance for the Knicks who were swept by Boston in the first round two seasons ago.
The Knicks are hungry for a deep run in the playoffs, never mind a first-round win against Boston. Mike Woodson stated on ESPN Radio New York on Monday, “We’re in desperate times right now to try and win an NBA title.” Woodson knows his team is aging and that he has a very short window with this select group of players to take
Even with the highest average team age in the NBA at 32.5 years old, the Knicks have not shown signs of fatigue in their last dozen games. They are on a twelve game win streak, the longest active streak in the association, and have defeated top-rank teams Miami and Oklahoma City. The recent success has been highlighted by the MVP-like play of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who was named the most recent Eastern Conference Player of the Week. After tying his career-high single game points total of 50 against Miami, he scored 40 against Atlanta and 41 against Milwaukee. The Knicks have also received great play from sixth-man J.R. Smith and big-man Kenyon Martin, who has proved to be a more than worthwhile mid-season pickup.
The Knicks have not won a world championship since the 1972-1973 season when Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe were lighting up Madison Square Garden. However, one member of that championship squad, iconic player and coach Phil Jackson, said recently that this current team has what it takes to contend for a title. Even though most basketball talking heads are certain that the Knicks will be unable to knock out both Miami and one of the Western Conference powerhouses in a potential championship match-up, a little motivation from a man who has won a combined 13 NBA titles never hurts.