Since Miami thumped Indiana and looked primed to claim the #1 seed in the East, they laid an egg in Atlanta and Indiana held on to beat OKC. That means the Pacers only need to win in Orlando to take back homecourt for good, and they may not even need that, as Miami could see the writing on the wall and give LeBron James a full week of much-needed rest.
This puts the Bulls in an awkward position. If they win out, they claim the 3 seed and get a favorable first-round matchup with Washington, avoiding a Nets team that has really come around and poses some unique matchup problems. However, that puts them in Miami’s half of the draw, and it’s hard to imagine any Bulls fans being enthused at them losing to Miami in 5 again. To get into Indiana’s half, where they would be big underdogs but at least have a puncher’s chance, they would need to drop back down to the 4 seed and have to face the Nets in Round 1.
Ideally, the Bulls would rest Jo and Jimmy these next two nights, and treat Wednesday’s game against Charlotte like business as usual, so as to not go a full week without playing a real game before the playoffs start. They could recharge their batteries a bit while also getting into the right half of the draw, the Brooklyn matchup aside. But obviously that will never happen because Thibs.
On the other side of the floor tonight is a team that would love to have these problems. The Knicks have now been officially eliminated from the playoff race, and with such a combustible team (and franchise overall), the Knicks could mail in their last couple of meaningless games, but the possibility also exists that they play carefree basketball (or rather, more carefree than usual), let it fly, and rain threes. Really, anything is in play with this Knicks team, although it’s hard to imagine them trying any harder on defense than they did the last time these two teams met, when Noah carved them up as a distributor all game.
80 games in, with not a whole lot at stake considering the standings, games like this can feel tedious, but keep in mind, we only have three games left of the hilariously incompetent 2013-2014 Knicks. Enjoy them one last time before they’re gone forever.