Woodson ups Knicks' practice intensity

Head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks reacts during the game against the Miami Heat. (April 15, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks don't know whom they will face in the first round of the playoffs, but they turned up their practice intensity to a postseason level Tuesday.

The lockout-condensed schedule combined with all their injuries limited what interim coach Mike Woodson has been able to do. They haven't taped their ankles and scrimmaged as much lately. They've held more shootarounds and walk-throughs than full-on practices to keep the players physically and mentally fresh.

But they had Monday off and when they came back to work Tuesday, some players thought it would be another light day since the Knicks begin a season-ending back-to-back Wednesday night against the Clippers. But Woodson wanted to start getting them ready for the playoffs.

"It started," Tyson Chandler said. "[This] practice was different than the last couple of practices have been. We got after it a little bit, got up and down the floor. Coach was very serious about his message that he wanted to get across. It was a good day.

"Definitely more intense. Guys kind of came in thinking, 'Another rest day.' Coach said, none of that, told them to get focused, which is good."

The Knicks could face the Pacers, Heat or Bulls in the first round. The likeliest is they will open in Miami this weekend, and that's the team they went over the most, Woodson said. The Knicks' seeding could be settled after Wednesday night's games.

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They would clinch the seventh spot with a win, a 76ers' loss in Milwaukee and if Orlando beats Charlotte. The seventh seed plays Miami.

But the No. 6 seed still would be in play if the Knicks win and the Magic lose to the 7-57 Bobcats. The Knicks would need to win their finale in Charlotte Thursday and Orlando would have to lose in Memphis for the Knicks to secure sixth place and a first-round meeting with Indiana.

The Knicks could slip to eighth with a loss to the Clippers and a 76ers' win. Then the Knicks would need to win their last game and Philadelphia to lose in Detroit or they will finish eighth and play Chicago.

"We're in the process of putting things together based on the three teams that we could possibly play: Miami, Chicago and Indiana, in that order," Woodson said. "We had a big meeting [Tuesday] morning about that and we'll continue to prep and get everything in place depending on who we turn out to play."

Chandler will play Wednesday night after sitting out Sunday's game in Atlanta. Amar'e Stoudemire, who returned Friday after missing three weeks with a bulging disc in his back, said he plans to play in both games, especially if the Knicks are playing for something.

"If it matters and it comes down to the last game, we're going to try to win," he said. "It depends on what Orlando does. If they lose and we have a chance to move up our seed, we'll go for it."

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