NYK can clinch playoff berth tonight

The Knicks can clinch a playoff berth on Thursday if the Bucks lose to Indiana.

Here's how:

• 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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