The New York Knicks officially claimed a playoff berth, meaning a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference, which guarantees they wonâ€™t have to play-in to the postseason. With the Boston Celtics falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday evening, they gifted the Knicks a guaranteed spot. Quite the early Christmas gift from Boston, an unlikely team to help the Knicks get into the playoffs.
However, this feat for New York has been earned through blood, sweat, and tears, playing intense basketball, and aggressive defense. The mentality that head coach Tom Thibodeau has rolled out this season has been welcomed by the players and contagious to the veterans, especially for guys like Derrick Rose.
With the Boston defeat, the Atlanta Hawks also sealed a postseason spot, meaning the four, five, and six seeds have all been solidified, but there is room for wiggle as the Knicks try to improve their landing spot over the last three games of the regular season.
Via social media, a plethora of Knicks players posted their excitement regarding clinching a playoff spot, as Julius Randle stated, â€œCheck it off the list. We not close to done.â€
Randle has had himself an All-NBA level season, as heâ€™s currently averaging 24 points, 5.9 assists, and 10.3 rebounds per game. He has been the Knicks’ fearless leader this entire season, playing through injury and making big shots down the stretch the past few weeks. His confidence has spilled over onto other players as well, notably second-year guard RJ Barrett. Barrett is averaging 17.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 5.8 rebounds, an improvement in every category compared to his rookie season last year.
The Knicks have the number one ranked defense of the NBA in points allowed per game, but they also have sufficient firepower to score enough points to keep games competitive or emerge victorious. The Knicks have a few competitive games to finish out the year, including a match-up against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday evening. Afterward, they will take on the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday and Boston to finish off the year on Sunday. If they can win all three games, they could find themselves in the 4th seed, which would give them a better opponent to work with in the 1st round.
The intensity and energy shouldnâ€™t falter after securing a playoff berth; they must continue playing high-level basketball and focusing on improving their game as they try to peak as the postseason commences.