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The Knicks are eliminated from playoff contention


Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

The Knicks have three more games, including one tonight against the Bulls. None of them will matter because the Hawks beat the Heat Saturday night, clinching the eighth playoff seed in the East. And they're only giving out eight playoff seeds in the East this year.

At this point, missing the playoffs comes as no surprise. We've known for weeks that the Knicks would have to get hot against a tough schedule to  outpace the Hawks, even as they fell. And we've known for months that these Knicks lack the fortitude to get hot against a tough schedule. New York head-faked, but this was never going to happen unless the Atlanta franchise decided to fold abruptly, which...there's still time!!!

Looking way back, missing the playoffs is a surprise, or at least to me it is. Back in September, I'd have granted you that New York's offseason moves had the potential to make them slightly worse, especially with Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih adding very little. I'd have granted you that Mike Woodson reverting to his worst tendencies had the potential to worsen them further. But I'd never have believed that, with Carmelo Anthony playing a full and splendid season, and with a relatively average injury burden otherwise, the Knicks would be horrid enough to get left in the Eastern Conference's dust, which is to get left in the dust of dust itself.

Last season's team-- a good, not great one-- rode a weird wave impressively far. A weird roster tricked a staunchly unweird coach into playing weird, and they managed to balance atop that successfully weird, weirdly successful wave well into May. This season's tremendous collapse shows how precarious that whole thing was. The loose edges of that roster mattered, and so did the subversive spirit possessing the coach. I still miss you, Cool Mike Woodson.

But I'm getting too far into eulogizing, which is something we'll do once it's over for real. We also ought to look back at the pleasant moments of 2013-2014, because there were some. In the meantime, the Knicks have three exhibition games to play, and I hope they do treat them that way. It's a nice opportunity to let the buried youngsters come out to make their final case, and even to add a 15th man for a quick audition and a potential leg up on next season. And I don't mean Lamar Odom, who probably isn't healthy enough to play immediately even if the Knicks do add him. Someone truly new! Take a shot! Dig deep! Swing for the fences!

Tip-off against the Bulls is at 7:30 tonight. I'm scheduling a game thread to post now in case I'm not home from where I'm going before then. Christian is recapsman this evening. Have a lovely Sunday!