The Knicks can clinch a playoff berth on Thursday if the Bucks lose to Indiana.
• The Knicks (33-29) enter play Thursday 3½ games up on ninth-place Milwaukee (29-32).
• If Milwaukee loses on Thursday, the highest win total it can finish with is 33.
• The Knicks' win over New Jersey on Wednesday guaranteed that they'll finish with at least 33 wins.
• If the Knicks and Bucks both finish the year at 33-33, the first tiebreaker is season series. The Knicks and Bucks split this year, 2-2. So they'd have to go to the second tiebreaker, which is conference record.
That's where a Milwaukee loss Thursday is key for the Knicks.
If the Bucks lose to Indiana, their conference record would be 22-22.
The Knicks are 26-19 in conference games. They have three games left against conference foes, meaning they can finish no worse than 26-22 in conference.
So a Milwaukee loss on Thursday means that, at worst, the Knicks will finish with the same conference record as the Bucks.
This takes us to the third tiebreaker: record against playoff teams in conference.
Entering play Thursday, the Knicks are 10-12 against Eastern Conference playoff teams. Milwaukee is 6-18 against playoff teams in conference. So the Knicks win the tiebreaker handily.
Which is why if you're a Knicks fan, you should be rooting hard for Indiana on Thursday.
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