Tonights game affords the Knicks a chance to put themselves in position to reclaim the 6 seed, which they had most of the year. So they should win and get that sixth seed, right?
Meh. Yeah, I mean, winning's good of course, but... meh.
Getting the six seed allows them to face the 3 seed instead of the 2 seed. Right now, the three seed and the two seed are tied. It's really a tossup as to whether the Heat and Celtics will end up 2/3 or 3/2. So getting the 6 seed might get us a matchup with the Heat. Or... it might get us a matchup with the Celtics. It really looks like a tossup whether we face the Heat or Celtics. I guess there's an outside chance we could face the Bulls.
Damn, those three teams are all good. We will have to play very well in order to have a chance at an upset. We will have to have our chemistry working and be able to have as many options as possible. To me, I don't see any advantage in getting the 6 seed. Even if we would prefer to face a certain team, getting the 6 seed is no guarantee that we would get to do that.
So I think it's better for us to not worry too much about winning these last few games and instead focus on getting our chemistry going, fixing our little problems and getting our tired guys some rest. Treat these last few games as a training camp. What's the worst that can happen? We get the 8 seed? Sure, we might get out of the habit of winning and that might hurt our ability to turn it on at the right moment, but I think the benefits outweigh the risks.
In terms of draft picks - here's where it gets interesting. Here are the five teams in play for spots 13-17 (assuming none of the non-playoff teams wins the lottery:
It would look like the Knicks could pick as high as 13th but it's not that simple, because Houston has the option of trading picks with us. So I would say we're probably going to be picking 16th or 17th no matter what we do. But if Houston loses its remaining 4 games and Utah and Phoenix win out and Philadelphia wins at least 2 of it's remaining 4, depending on the tiebreakers, we could pick 13th or 14th!. It doesn't much matter what we do as we can't mathematically end up with a better record than Houston. But victories by Utah, Phoenix, and Philly can move us up in the draft if Houston cooperates and loses.
EDIT - looking at last year's draft and final standings, it appears that non-playoff teams will pick 1-14 regardless of record. So Utah and Phoenix will almost certainly be 13-14, and the earliest the Knicks could pick would be 15, but that's actually impossible because Houston would have win their last four games to make the playoffs and if they did that, they'd have a better record than the Knicks and could swap with us anyway. So the only issue left is this: If the Knicks get the 6 seed they pick 17th and if they get the 7 seed they pick 16th. Still...
Bottom line, it probably helps us more to move up in the draft then to move up in seeding.
Not that I would advocate losing on purpose, but I would advocate working on what we need to work on and getting rest rather than playing to win at all costs.