Playoff chances grow slimmer for Knicks
The Knicks are running out of time, chances and games, and very soon they could be out of the playoff picture altogether.
Mathematically, they still are alive. But their slim hopes of getting the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot got even slimmer with the Hawks' win in Indiana on Sunday night. They could become microscopic by the time the Knicks play again.
The Knicks (33-45), who trail Atlanta (34-42) by two games, are off until Friday, when they visit Atlantic Division-leading Toronto. The Hawks play twice before that at home against the Pistons and Celtics, who are a combined 52 games below .500.
Atlanta holds the tiebreaker on the Knicks, so if the Hawks win both games, their magic number will be reduced to one. In that case, the only way for the Knicks to make the playoffs would be to win their final four games while the Hawks go 0-4.
"It's tough," Mike Woodson said Sunday after the Knicks' loss in Miami. "We've got to win some games. It's about how we play, man, and what we do from here on out. I keep saying that -- I can't control what Atlanta does the rest of the way. I've got to try to control what we do."
Winning their remaining four will be difficult based on their schedule -- the Knicks' final three games are against the Bulls, Nets and Raptors -- and Carmelo Anthony's health. That, right now, appears as bad as the Knicks' chances of making the postseason.
Anthony has a strained right shoulder that is affecting everything he does. In the last two games, both losses, he has shot 9-for-31 and scored 23 points. He didn't attempt a shot or score a point in the fourth quarter in Miami.
This break of four days could help Anthony rest and strengthen his shoulder, but he said he's not sure what the problem is. Anthony hasn't had an MRI yet. He's comparing the feeling to last year's playoffs, when he played with a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He says it's different, but this time it's his shooting arm.
"I still had my shooting arm last year, so I was able to adjust somewhat," he said. "It changed my shot, changed my game a little bit. This year it's my right hand, it's my right shoulder. I do a lot with that shoulder. My strength comes from that. When you don't have that, it kind of takes away everything physically."
If Anthony remains severely limited, Woodson will have to get more balance out of his team.
J.R. Smith attempted an NBA-record 22 three-pointers in the Miami loss. He hoisted 10 threes in the fourth, which is one more shot than Amar'e Stoudemire took in the game. Smith usually has a green light to shoot, but he's taken 50 three-pointers in the past three games.
After being told that Smith set an NBA record, a stunned Stoudemire walked over and told Raymond Felton, who couldn't believe how many three-pointers his teammate took.
The Knicks have a few days to figure something out andhope Anthony's shoulder improves and that Atlanta loses. But they believe it might not matter if they don't win out.
"I've been feeling that," Tyson Chandler said. "We still got to come out with the mentality that we have to win every game."
Said Woodson, "We can't keep losing them."