Knicks face important matchup against Magic with playoff implications

New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) dribbles the ball against the Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50) in the fourth quarter at KIA Center. Mandatory Credit
Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have a lot riding on their game against the Orlando Magic tonight. The Knicks (36-26) are only half a game behind the Magic (37-26) for the No. 4 seed in the NBA Eastern Conference.

Knicks can reclaim the No. 4 spot in the standings with a win over Magic

Per Peter Botte of the New York Post, Josh Hart spoke to the media ahead of the pivotal game and stressed the significance that a win will have at this juncture of the season:

“Extremely, extremely important,” Josh Hart said after Thursday’s practice. “Obviously, Orlando I think they’ve won five games in a row, 8-2 in their last 10, playing really good basketball.”

The Magic are rolling. Of their last eight wins, five were won by double figures. That includes their 118-100 win over the Knicks on Feb. 14. Paolo Banchero has been exceptional in their hot stretch, highlighted by his 29-point performance in a dominant win over the Detroit Pistons on March 3.

Knicks will have to overcome injuries and home struggles against the Magic tonight

The young Magic will be a handful for the Knicks. New York will be at home in tonight’s affair, though they are 1-4 in their last five games at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks will likely be without All-Star Jalen Brunson, who is questionable with a knee contusion. OG Anunoby (elbow) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle) are both steadily progressing in rehab but are still not ready to take the floor. A win for the banged-up Knicks will leapfrog them over the Magic and put them within four games of the No. 2 seed, currently held by the Milwaukee Bucks.

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