Playoff hopeful Knicks preparing for ‘very important game’ against Heat – The Mercury News
James Dolan’s declaration of playoff expectations lends more importance to a Knicks postseason push.
If an owner sets a public goal, there’s a burden internally to meet it — regardless of Tom Thibodeau’s claims about feeling unpressured.
Which brings us to Thursday’s game against the Heat.
Although it’s still too early to get crazy about playoff seedings, a matchup between No. 7 in the conference (the Knicks) and No. 6 (the Heat) carries a little more significance because of the new playoff format.
Only the sixth seed gets an automatic playoff berth. The seventh seed has to win a play-in game.
The Knicks (27-25), riding a losing streak after Tuesday’s overtime defeat to the Lakers, are two games behind the Heat (29-23). It was a disheartening start to the season for Miami, but Pat Riley’s franchise is surging behind All-Star candidates Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Since the 2018-19 season, the Knicks are 2-9 against the Heat.
“Very important [game],” Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson said. “Got to find a way to just get over the hump.”
“Obviously they have great personnel, a culture that they talk about all the time. So they’re going to come in, they’re going to play hard. We’ve got to match their energy and pick it up on the defensive end. Offensively we’re scoring a lot of points. Defensively is where we’ve got to pick it up.”
Unluckily for the Knicks, the East is stacked this season through the top six, with Thibodeau’s squad right now outside the bubble. They need to break in guarantee meeting Dolan’s goal.