So I mixed it up a little bit with Mac & Tierney this afternoon on 1050-AM, making the argument that it doesn't matter whether the Knicks finish sixth or seventh in the East, and therefore it shouldn't matter that the Knicks dropped from sixth to seventh during their 18-game month of March.
What matters is what happens in April, whether the Knicks can develop a little head of steam going into the playoffs, and then how they match up with whichever opponent they face.
Right now, it appears it'll be Miami or Boston, unless the Chicago Bulls blow a 2 1/2 game lead over their final eight games. And the opponent still would have been Miami or Boston if the Knicks had held onto the sixth spot. So they really haven't had anything tangible to play for, which helps explain the varying degrees of effort they've shown in their first 21 games since the big trade.
The Knicks have three potential measuring stick games over their final seven games. The first is next Wednesday at Philadelphia, then the two games to close the season against the Bulls on Tuesday, April 12 and the next night in Boston against the Celtics. The game against the Bulls could be meaningless, however, if Chicago has already wrapped up the East, and the race for the 2-3 seeds could be decided before the final night of the season, which would render the Celtics game moot, too.
For now, the Knicks are enjoying three days off between games for the first time since the All-Star break. They are back at the Garden on Sunday night against Cleveland, trying to a avoid being swept 4-0 in the season series by the worst team in the NBA. After that they get the Raptors, who are playing out the string and are currently on a five-game losing streak.
If the Knicks lose either of those games, the panic meter can go back above 6.
For now, everyone should take a deep breath and afix one eye on the Knicks, see if they can build off their two wins over Orlando and New Jersey and carry some positive momentum into the playoffs, and keep the other eye on the Celtics and Heat, both of which are experiencing troubles of their own right now.