Make no mistake, the Knicks are going to do whatever they can over the final 20 games of the season to avoid facing Chicago and Miami in the playoffs.
But if they do end up in the bottom of the playoff picture and are forced to face the Bulls or Heat, Doug Collins believes the higher seed won't necessarily be happy.
"When you start looking at it, the cream of the crop is Miami and Chicago and I guarantee you Miami and Chicago sure doesn’t want to see the New York Knicks at 7 or 8, I can tell you that," the Sixers coach said before tip-off of the Knicks-Sixers game on Wednesday.
Entering play Wednesday, the Knicks had won four straight and were a half-game ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. They were four games behind Philadelphia for first place in the Atlantic Division and four games back of Atlanta for sixth place in the division.
"There are teams out there saying, I don’t want to play that team," Collins said of the Knicks. "They’re loaded. You look at their frontlline, you’ve got shot blocking in Tyson Chandler, and you’ve got Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony), and you’ve got Jeremy Lin now playing, and you’ve got guys coming off the bench."
The Sixers blew the Knicks out at Madison Square Garden on March 11. New York trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half of Philly's 106-94 loss. Afterward, then-head coach Mike D'Antoni said that his team didn't have the heart to comeback against Philadelphia.
According Collins, plenty has changed for the Knicks since that Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden.
"What I’m seeing is more energy, more tenacity," Collins said before Wednesday's game. "I'm seeing guys up the floor defending, I'm seeing trapping at half court."
Indeed, the Knicks have relied on defense to win each of their four games since Mike Woodson took over as interim head coach. They held opponents to 39 percent shooting in Woodson's first three games on the bench and out rebounded Toronto, 16-4, on the offensive glass in Tuesday's win.
"Woody's teams always played good defense in Atlanta, they always did. So I would expect for him to put those kind of demands on them," Collins said. "When they defend, they can score, there’s no question about that."