Knicks control their destiny in battle for the No. 4 seed in the East – fr

Knicks control their destiny in battle for the No. 4 seed in the East – fr

The opportunity is there for the Knicks to punctuate their rebirth this season with an advantage on the field in the first round of the playoffs.

Tom Thibodeau’s resurgent side can clinch the coveted Eastern Conference fourth seed with a victory in Sunday’s regular season final over the Celtics (who are locked in the No.7 seed) in the Garden.

On Saturday afternoon, the Knicks dealt with the first of their last two games, outlasting the Charlotte Hornets, 118-109, in overtime at the Garden for their 40th win of the season. They are suddenly in command of the No.4 position in the East after the Heat’s loss, 122-108, later Saturday to No.3 in Milwaukee.

The Knicks are currently tied with Atlanta at 40-31, but they control the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Hawks, who face the NBA’s worst Rockets at home on Sunday night. The Heat (39-32) are one game behind the two teams entering their season finale in Detroit.

“For us, we have to take it step by step. We have a fast turnaround. We have to be ready for Boston, ”said Thibodeau after the Knicks’ morning victory. “You can’t care about the other teams. But that’s your business, so you know what’s going on.

Julius Randle and Tom Thibodeau celebrate after their 122-108 overtime win over the Hornets.
Julius Randle and Tom Thibodeau celebrate after their 118-109 overtime win over the Hornets.

“For us, the most important thing was to take care of the pitch, to take care of the game that we have on hand. If we take care of all the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. That’s how we’ve approached it all season. We haven’t changed at all. “

Julius Randle heard more “MVP” chants as he paced the Knicks with 33 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his sixth triple-double of the season. Reggie Bullock buried five three runs, including a key in overtime, and finished with 17 points. Alec Burks added 14 points and center Nerlens Noel played another solid defensive game with 11 rebounds and five of the Knicks’ seven blocked shots.

Elfrid Payton remained in the starting lineup, but only played 12 minutes. Derrick Rose scored 15 points in 25 minutes on the bench after missing Thursday’s comeback victory over Spurs with a sprained ankle. Thibodeau said Rose was not injured, but the coach went with a guard combination of Emmanuel Quickley (13 points) and Burks in the home stretch and in overtime, with Rose and RJ Barrett on the bench.

“Both guys are doing fine,” Thibodeau said. “It was the way the game was played. We have started the third quarter very well. And then we hit a lull. We found a group that could go. This group ended up doing well. So we stayed with them longer. They are fine and will be ready to go [Sunday]. »

When asked if Rose, 32, was on the minute restriction on Saturday, Thibodeau replied, “Our goal is to win.

The Knicks led by no less than 17 in the third quarter, but Miles Bridges (30 points) scored 16 in a 30-16 close by the Hornets to reduce the cushion to three. Malik Monk’s lead at the start of the fourth pushed Charlotte ahead, and Devonte ‘Graham followed with a 3-point lead for a 93-89 lead. The Knicks recovered, 102-101 on Randle’s trey with 5:19 to go.

Noel and the Knicks defense held Charlotte without a basket (0 for 5 with three turnovers) for more than six minutes until Terry Rozier’s practice forged a 104-104 draw with 37.8 seconds left. end. But Burks and Bullock’s first 3 points triggered a 14-2 flurry to open the extra session.

Randle and Noel subsequently said they would tune in to the Heat’s game later that night in Milwaukee. They were also asked if the 15-of-19-winning Knicks are a team opponents should want to avoid in the playoffs.

“I can’t speak for the other teams, but whatever the challenge or the opponent for us, we’ll be ready, we’re excited and we’ll accept the challenge,” said Randle.

“I heard whispers at the start of the season and in the middle of the season,” added Noel. “I think they know we’re definitely a tough, tough team who are able to play on both sides of the pitch, especially when our defense clicks. It can be kind of a nightmare.

“I am very confident in our abilities. No matter who the game is, we’ll be ready to go. “


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here