There was a time in Knicks history when being eliminated by the Chicago Bulls was a frustrating end result to an otherwise successful season. This is not like that at all.
Chris Bosh's Raptors (three straight losses, seven of last 10) have sunk so low, it actually took the Bulls to eliminate the Knicks. With Chicago's 110-103 win over the pathetic Pistons, the Knicks were removed from playoff contention, which was an inevitability for most of the past month.
It clinched six straight seasons without a playoff berth. That is the second-longest playoff drought in franchise history, one behind the old Garden-era teams from 1959-60 - 1965-66.
Perhaps it says something about the Eastern Conference that the Knicks, 20 games under .500, survived this deep into the season. Or maybe it says something about Bosh's Raptors (35-36), who have tumbled enough to now have just a half-game lead over the Bulls (35-38), who seemed to be dead in the water until Toronto's swoon.
With 10 games to go, the Knicks trail the Raptors by nine games and the Bulls by 9.5. But the Raptors (3-0 season series record) and Bulls (3-1) already own the tiebreakers against the Knicks. And the Bulls and Raptors play each other one more time this season (April 11 at Toronto), it ensures at least one of those teams will have at least 36 wins this season, which means the Knicks are done.
And that's why Jazz fans have a little more to root for tonight when the Knicks play here in the second game of this five-game road trip. Utah has much more of a vested interest in the Knicks failures because it owns the Knicks' first round pick. How did the Jazz get that pick, which originally was a conditional first-rounder sent to Phoenix in the Stephon Marbury trade? We explain here. We also discuss how this is an example of why Donnie Walsh was so hesitant to give up that 2012 pick and the rights to swap 2011 when he made the Tracy McGrady deal on Feb. 18. Walsh, with the fate of this year's pick on his mind, made sure to at least protect the '11 pick if it landed in the No. 1 spot and the '12 pick if it was in the top 5.
Let me apologize here, Fixers, for the Monday morning sunshine I just brought to your day.