Playoff picture: Help from N.J.?

The Nets play their final game in New Jersey on Monday night against the Sixers.

A Nets win would give their fans a nice parting gift.

It would also give the Knicks more breathing room in their pursuit of seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Sunday's win over Atlanta gave New York (34-30) a half-game lead over the eighth-place Sixers (33-30).

If the Nets (22-42) can somehow upend Philly on Monday, it put the Knicks up one game over Philly with two to play.

But since New York owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Philly, they would in essence be up by two games.

So if the Sixers lose to Jersey on Monday, the Knicks' magic number to clinch the seventh spot would be down to one.

A seventh-place finish would likely set the Knicks up for a first-round matchup with Miami.

Also, the sixth spot is still in play for New York -- but it would take a minor miracle to finish there.

To get to sixth, the Knicks would need to win out. They host the L.A. Clippers, who are still in play for the Pacific Division title, on Wednesday and go to Charlotte on Thursday to close out the season.

They also need Orlando to lose their final two games, which is highly unlikely.

The Magic host the Bobcats on Wednesday and finish up on the road against Memphis on Thursday.

So, barring a serious Magic meltdown against Charlotte on Wednesday, the Knicks can forget about the sixth seed.

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