I haven't been paying the closest attention to the standings because 1. It's so COMPLICATED and I just don't FEEL like it. 2. I'm doing the whole "I don't care who the Knicks play. Just happy to be in the playoffs!" thing. Now, though, New York has just four games left and the field of potential scenarios is starting to shrink. Here are a few facts that are true facts:
1. The Boston Celtics are the Atlantic Division champions. With their win last night, the Celtics clinched. Cool. Whatever. We didn't even WANT the Knicks to win that. Nobody cares. Divisions are stupid. I didn't even know there WERE divisions. Good job, though, I guess.
2. The Knicks are in seventh place-- one game ahead of Philadelphia, three and a half games ahead of Milwaukee, and three games behind Orlando.
3. The soonest the Knicks can clinch a playoff spot is Friday if the Bucks lose to the Pacers tonight and the Knicks beat the Cavaliers. (Update: A reader emailed me to point out that a Milwaukee loss tonight would give the Bucks 33 losses, meaning the worst the Knicks could do is tie them. New York holds the tiebreaker with Milwaukee, so wouldn't a loss tonight equal a clinched playoff berth? I have no idea. Suffice to say that it's highly unlikely that the Knicks miss the playoffs.)
As David Steele, a Magic broadcaster and friend of Orlando Pinstriped Post, pointed out via Twitter, any combination of two Magic victories and Knicks losses will clinch the sixth seed for Orlando. Even if the Magic lose three of their final four games, they can still clinch the sixth seed if New York loses at least once.
5. The appeal of the sixth seed, obviously, is that the Pacers-- while a good and exceedingly hot team-- aren't quite as frightening as the Heat are. One thing to consider, though, is that the Celtics still have an outside shot at the third seed. I'm not sure this is even possible, but the idea of the Knicks marching up to the sixth seed only to find Boston, not Indiana, staring back at them from the third spot is a bit frightening. (Again, Pacers, it's not that you're not fearsome. We just have a thing with the Celtics. You're a very good team and deserve to feel content and complacent heading into the postseason. Definitely no chips on shoulders. That'd be silly.)
So that's more or less what's up with the standings. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about something, add in anything I missed, and check out some of the newer Fanposts for a bit more clarity.