Carmelo Anthony celebrates with Steve Novak after Anthony hit a...

Carmelo Anthony celebrates with Steve Novak after Anthony hit a 3-point shot to put the Knicks ahead 100-99 in overtime against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. (April 8, 2012) Credit: Errol Anderson

MILWAUKEE -- The Knicks high-fived fans and former players and acted as if they just won a playoff game or series after beating the Bulls in overtime Sunday at the Garden.

Tyson Chandler, who was among the most excited Knicks when that game ended, said they should have acted like they've been there. But there's still no guarantee the Knicks will get there.

It was an important regular-season game. But every remaining game is as the Knicks chase a playoff spot. They didn't play with that same sense of urgency in their rematch in Chicago Tuesday, setting up Wednesday night's gigantic game against the Bucks, the team directly below the Knicks in the playoff race.

Chandler and Carmelo Anthony called Wednesday night a "must-win." Chandler said the Knicks needed "to approach it like it's a Game 7 playoff game."

Eight games remain after this one, but Wednesday night was enormous for both teams.

The Knicks needed to win to at least hold on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and build a two-game lead on Milwaukee. A win also would have tied the season series at 2. The next tiebreaker is conference record, and the Knicks would be 11/2 games up on Milwaukee with a win.

A loss and the Knicks would be tied with Milwaukee, and slip to ninth because the Bucks would win the season series 3-1.

The bottom line for Chandler: It was too soon to celebrate.

"We've got to bring it every night," he said. "Just because we were at home and we beat a good team in Chicago, it can't be a celebration. It has to continue every night. We have to beat them again and go to Milwaukee and beat them. That's what good teams do and that's the step we have to take.

"We have to understand if we want to make that step as an elite team, elite teams take care of business."

The Knicks have been on an impressive run, winning 11 of the 15 games since Mike Woodson became interim coach.

But the Knicks likely will need a strong finish -- with a schedule that includes home games against the Heat, Celtics and Clippers and a road contest in Atlanta -- to outlast the Bucks or 76ers and make the playoffs for the second straight season.

The 76ers began Wednesday night in seventh place, one-game up on the Knicks and have been sliding. Philadelphia, which defeated the Raptors, 93-75, last night, haave dropped 10 of 16 games. The Sixers have three games left against teams above .500, but end the season on a five-game road trip.

"It's all about us honestly," Chandler said. "I don't really care about what other teams are doing because it's all about how we're playing and how we go into the playoffs.

"Obviously, we want a chance to win our division. We want to get a high seed. But to me it ultimately comes down to how you're playing when you get in."

It would help the Knicks if they could find a consistent second scorer behind Anthony, which they haven't had since losing Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin to injury. J.R. Smith probably is the Knicks' next best offensive player but he runs hot and very cold. The Knicks needed 43 points from Anthony to beat the Bulls Sunday by one point and he didn't have that much help in Chicago. Anthony said he saw guys passing up shots.

"Guys just got to play," Anthony said. "Guys got to step up at the end of the day. The guys that we need to be aggressive on the offensive end and take those shots, we need them to do that."