Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
By the numbers: The Atlantic Division race
After a win in Charlotte on Feb. 13, the 76ers improved to 20-9. Near the halfway mark, Philadelphia led Boston by four games, and the Knicks by 6.5 games.
Fast forward to Friday, March 30, and the Atlantic Division is very much a three-team race. Philly and Boston are both 28-22, with the Knicks just 2 1/2 games back at 26-25. What's more, the Sixers are just 5-5 in their last 10, while the Celtics (7-3) and Knicks (8-2) have been gaining ground.
Looking ahead, Philadelphia and Boston have 16 games to go, the Knicks 15. How do the schedules shape up? Let's take a look. We'll include the date of the game, the opponent, whether the game is home or away, the opponent's record and winning percentage, and what the team's record is against the opponent this year.
|April 18||New Jersey||Away||17-35||0.327||1-1|
|April 25||LA Clippers||Home||29-21||0.580||0-0|
|April 10||New Jersey||Away||17-35||0.327||0-1|
|April 13||New Jersey||Home||17-35||0.327||0-1|
|April 23||New Jersey||Away||17-35||0.327||0-1|
|April 4||San Antonio||Home||35-14||0.714||0-0|
|April 14||New Jersey||Away||17-35||0.327||2-0|
|April 17||New York||Away||26-25||0.510||2-1|
Some numbers to pull out from the remaining schedules:
Knicks opponents have a collective record of 389-365 (.516 winning percentage). New York is 12-12 against the 15 teams. They have six home and nine road games remaining, and they play the Bulls (twice), Cavs (twice) and Hawks (twice) multiple times.
76ers opponents have a collective record of 372-437 (.460 winning percentage). Philadelphia is 16-7 against the 16 teams. They have five home and 11 road games remaining, and they play the Raptors (twice), Nets (thrice), Magic (twice) and Pacers (twice) multiple times.
Celtics opponents have a collective record of 449-358 (.556 winning percentage). Boston is 15-9 against the 16 teams. They have seven home and nine road games remaining, and the play the Heat (thrice) and Hawks (twice) multiple times.
Key stretches and opponents for each team:
The Knicks have a home-and-home with the 41-11 Chicago Bulls on April 8 and 10. They have a three-game home stand (Washington, Miami, Boston) and a three-game road trip (New Jersey, Cleveland, Atlanta) back-to-back at the end of the schedule. Two games could have serious tiebreaker implications: against Milwaukee on April 11, and in Boston on April 17.
The 76ers have three games left against the 17-35 Nets. They wrap up the season on a five goame road trip; however, the road trip includes just one game against a team with a winning record (the Indiana Pacers). One game could have serious tiebreaker implications: in Boston on April 8.
The Celtics have three games left against the Heat. They play the Heat, Spurs and Bulls back-to-back-to-back in the beginning of April. Boston has a four game road trip in mid-April, the first three games against three of the league's worst teams (Toronto, New Jersey, Charlotte). Two games could have serious tiebreaker implications: April 8 against Philadelphia, and April 17 in New York.
Who is in the best shape?
Looking through the schedules, the Knicks have five games they should win easy (Cleveland, Washington, at New Jersey, at Cleveland, and at Charlotte), three games they're likely to lose (Chicago, at Chicago, Miami), and seven toss-up games.
Philadelphia has eight games they should win easy (Washington, Toronto, at New Jersey, at Toronto, New Jersey, Cleveland, New Jersey, at Detroit), one game they're likely to lose (at Miami), and seven toss-up games.
Boston has three games they should win easy (at Toronto, at New Jersey, at Charlotte), five games they are likely to lose (Miami, San Antonio, at Chicago, at Miami, Miami), and eight toss-up games.
The 76ers easily have the softest schedule remaining, with just seven of their 16 remaining games against teams with winning records. Conversely, Boston has the toughest schedule, with five games left against the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in either the East or West.
What about Milwaukee?
The Bucks, currently the No. 9 seed in the East, are 23-27, 2 1/2 games back of the Knicks for a playoff spot. Here is their remaining schedule, with key games in bold:
|April 9||Oklahoma City||Home||39-12||0.765||0-0|
|April 21||New Jersey||Home||17-35||0.327||2-0|
Milwaukee's opponents have a collective record of 347-451 (0.435 winning percentage). The Bucks have 10 home and six road games remaining. They are 15-8 against the teams left on their schedule.