“Knicks Aim to Preserve No. 2 Seed Against Celtics in NBA Playoff Race”

NBA playoff picture: Knicks look to keep No. 2 seed hopes alive vs. Celtics

The Knicks are still looking to possibly move up to the No. 2 seed in the NBA playoff picture.

[NBA Playoff Picture] Knicks' Jalen Brunson vs. Celtics' Jayson Tatum

Critical NBA playoff picture matchups were held on Wednesday night, as clarity was provided at the top of the Western Conference. With the Denver Nuggets taking down the Minnesota Timberwolves, Nikola Jokic and Co. took one step closer to retaining the 1-seed in the conference. However, there is still a lot unknown at the top of the Eastern Conference, specifically regarding where every team falls in the standings behind the Boston Celtics. While the Milwaukee Bucks currently occupy the 2-seed in the East, the New York Knicks have an extremely important game against the Celtics on the NBA’s Thursday schedule.

As things stand right now, the Knicks are 1.5 games behind the Bucks for the 2-seed with three games left on their schedule, including Thursday night’s game in Boston. Realistically, the Knicks can still move up and claim the title as the second-best team in the East this season, despite the Bucks owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over them.

NBA playoff picture: Knicks look to keep No. 2 seed hopes alive vs. Celtics

Milwaukee has lost six of their last nine games, and they have a tough battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder approaching on their schedule. By the end of Friday, the Knicks may just be the new 2-seed in the conference. However, everything starts with this matchup against the Celtics on Thursday, a team New York has struggled against.

The Knicks have played the Celtics four times this season as a result of running into them during the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament. No success has been found for New York against the league’s best, as they have gone 0-4 and been outscored by an average of 11.0 points per game.

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The last time these two teams met was right after the trade deadline in February. Since then, the Knicks have definitely changed and become a stronger team, especially on the interior with the returns of OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson. Of course, Jalen Brunson’s offensive production can’t be overlooked either. Brunson has been the hottest player in the league in recent weeks, recording at least 35 points in four straight games, including back-to-back games with 43 points and 45 points.

After recording back-to-back 40-point games for the second time this season, Brunson joined Bernard King (1984-85) and Patrick Ewing (1989-90) as the only players in franchise history to achieve such a feat, per team release.

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It is not hard to say that the Knicks are playing their best basketball of the season right now, with Brunson leading the charge. With an opportunity presented to them and the Celtics possibly looking to rest some of their players, now could be the time for the Knicks to rise and fight for the No. 2 seed. The NBA playoff picture and standings could look much different, especially in the Eastern Conference, after Thursday’s small slate of games.

Bulls vs. Pistons (7:00 PM ET)

At this point, there really isn’t much weight to any game the Chicago Bulls play. They are locked into the 9-seed vs. 10-seed game, and with the Atlanta Hawks losing on Wednesday night, the Bulls can clinch the 9-seed in the Eastern Conference. Chicago owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Atlanta this season. The Bulls are going to need to defeat the Hawks and then pick up a win likely against either the Philadelphia 76ers or Miami Heat just to earn the 8-seed. At that point, they would draw a first-round matchup against the Celtics, a series they would easily lose 4-0.

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