NEW YORK -- With the Knicks' 103-65 blowout win Friday night over the Wizards, they overtook the Philadelphia 76ers at the seventh spot in the playoff picture.
Even though the Knicks and Sixers have the same record (31-28), the Knicks own the tiebreaker. Now, they're three games back of the Celtics for the Atlantic Division crown. And that's something Mike Woodson feels the team can capture.
"It's about winning, but we can't worry about what Boston and Philly are doing," he said during his postgame news conference. "I mean, Boston has to lose, Philly has to lose in terms of us moving up and trying to secure the division. But it's there. We control our own destiny in terms of being able to move up and win the division. And it starts on Sunday."
After Friday night's game, Woodson hardly spoke about the Wizards. His mindset was already on the second-seeded Heat, the Knicks' opponent on Sunday. He called the matchup "a big test" for the team.
Currently, the seventh-seeded Knicks would meet the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. But there was news Friday that could even mean a climb to the sixth spot. Orlando center Dwight Howard was diagnosed with a herniated disk and he is out indefinitely. Howard has missed five out of the team's last seven games, and the Magic have gone 1-4 during that stretch without their All-Star center. That includes their 109-81 loss Friday night to the Atlanta Hawks.
Looking ahead, the Magic have a more difficult schedule than the Knicks, in terms of combined winning percentage. While the Magic face the 76ers, Celtics, Jazz, Nuggets and Grizzlies, the Knicks will need to go through the Heat, Celtics, Hawks and Clippers.
A move out of the two lowest spots would be a huge sigh of relief for the Knicks. That means they wouldn't have to deal with the Bulls or Heat in the first round. With Amare Stoudemire potentially back by then, the Knicks would have a better chance of moving on to the conference semifinals. That's when Jeremy Lin would likely make his return, and at that point, the ceiling could be much higher for the Knicks.
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.