Here’s the most important number to know when thinking about the New York Knicks’ playoff “chances”: three.
Any combination of Knicks’ losses and Atlanta Hawks’ wins that adds up to three will clinch the eighth spot in the East for Atlanta.
Yes, the Hawks’ win Sunday over the Indiana Pacers combined with the Knicks’ loss to the Miami Heat left New York’s season on life support.
Even if the Knicks win all four games left on their schedule, they’d still need Atlanta to finish 2-4 in order to get into the playoffs. The Hawks are three games up on New York in the loss column and hold the tiebreaker with New York based on conference record.
“It is tough. We have to win some games,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “It is about how we play and what we do from here on out. I can't control what the Atlanta Hawks do, but I can control what we do. These next three or four days will give us a chance to regroup."
The Knicks don’t play again until Friday, when they travel to Toronto. They then close the season with home games against Chicago, Brooklyn and Toronto.
All three teams are still battling for playoff position.
The Hawks have a much easier schedule to end the campaign.
Four of Atlanta’s final six games are against teams under .500. Three of their opponents (Detroit, Boston, Milwaukee) enter play Monday a combined 101 games under .500.
Given the circumstances entering this week, do you think the Knicks have any chance of sneaking in? If not, what would you identify as the biggest reason that they fell short?
What’s next: The Knicks have four days between games. They play at Toronto on Friday.
Question: Given the circumstances entering this week, do you think the Knicks have any chance of sneaking in? If not, what would you identify as the biggest reason that they fell short?
ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh contributed to this report.
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.