Sunday’s Nets matchup could go a long way towards Knicks’ push for Play-In Tournament

Julius Randle dribbling black uniform Grizzlies defender in shot

The Knicks’ loss to Memphis on Friday sets up another intriguing storyline for Sunday’s game at Brooklyn:

A Nets win on Sunday could do serious damage to New York’s bid for a spot in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament.

The Hawks and Hornets both won on Friday night. Atlanta faces a struggling Indiana team at home on Sunday.

It’s fair to assume the Hawks will take care of business against the Pacers.

So if the Knicks lose to Brooklyn on Sunday, they could be left 5.5 games out of the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference with 14 games to play.

That deficit isn’t insurmountable. But New York would need two teams out of the three-team group of Washington, Atlanta and Charlotte to crumble in the final four weeks of the regular season.

The young Hornets have the 11th toughest remaining schedule in the NBA, per tankathon.com.

New York and Washington are in the bottom third in terms of strength of schedule the rest of the way. Atlanta has the second-easiest schedule in the NBA from here on out.

The Knicks have two games remaining against the Hornets and two games remaining against Kristaps Porzingis and the Wizards. They have one game remaining against Atlanta. So New York can influence the race for 10th directly down the stretch.

But a loss to Brooklyn on Sunday makes New York’s difficult climb to 10th place significantly steeper.

On the other hand, a loss on Sunday could leave New York tied with New Orleans for the ninth-worst record in the NBA. At this point, it seems unlikely that the Knicks would finish with anything lower than the 6th-worst record in the league.

They are 5.5 games ahead of Sacramento, which currently owns the sixth worst mark in the NBA.

STRONG ROAD TRIP

The Knicks looked like a team ready to play out of the string going into the All-Star break. They suffered three straight brutal losses before the break and were facing a tough schedule in late February/early March.

But New York deserves credit for remaining competitive coming out of the break, particularly on this current road trip.

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The Knicks had won three straight prior…

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