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Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks Are Getting Hot at the Right Time

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks celebrates his game winning three pointer against as Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls looks on at Madison Square Garden on April 8, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
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Percy DinozoCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

Carmelo Anthony made Madison Square Garden his house for one night.  The question is, can Anthony repeat the trick at the United Center?

After pulling off an improbable comeback against the East-leading Chicago Bulls, the Knicks will face them again on the road.  As the last game on tonight's schedule, just how much New York can improve their playoff standing will largely be determined by the tip-off time of 9:30 p.m. ET.

Three games that precede the Knicks-Bulls will impact the Knicks' playoff standing:

 

Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat: 7:00 p.m. ET

Boston holds a three-game lead on the Knicks for the Atlantic Division.  Making up that gap is the difference between playing the Heat on the road in round one (Miami is a dominant 24-3 at home), and hosting a team for the first round (currently the Atlanta Hawks, a .500 team on the road).

Tonight, Miami will be playing to shave the two-game gap between them and the Bulls for the top spot in the East. 

The Celtics also will have their embarrassing 91-72 loss to the Celtics on April 1 as further motivation. 

Expect the Heat to exercise their home-court advantage: If they do, the Knicks will be able to even the distance between falling out of the playoffs and winning the Atlantic Division with a win at Chicago.

 

Orlando Magic @ Washington Wizards: 7:00 p.m. ET

 

The Wizards have won the majority of their games at home.

But owning seven wins (and a 7-21 record overall in front of their fans) can't be considered an advantage, can it?

The Magic, by comparison, have more road wins (15) than the Wizards have in total (13).

Even the drama around Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy should not be able to derail the Wizards' quest for more ping pong balls in the upcoming draft: The Knicks' hopes of closing in on the sixth seed (and a favorable matchup with the Indiana Pacers) will have to wait.

 

Philadelphia 76ers @ New Jersey Nets: 7:30 p.m. ET

NYC Metro-area fans, rejoice!  You now have a legitimate reason to watch the Nets play.

While the Nets are worse at home (9-19) than they are on the road (12-18), the 76ers couldn't come into the game much colder.

They have lost four in a row, gone from one game up on the Celtics for the Atlantic Division to three games down, and are also 10-15 on the road.

With the same record as the Knicks right now, a loss would drive the 76ers even closer to falling completely out of the playoff picture.

The Nets are playing better than their record suggests, and they should be able to pull out a home victory.

This is the first of three remaining meetings between these teams, and losing two out of three to the Nets would likely spell doom for the 76ers.

 

New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls: 9:30 p.m. ET

If both the Celtics and the 76ers lose, the Knicks will move to two games behind Boston and one game ahead of Philadelphia.

Winning in the United Center, however, is easier said than done.

Chicago is 22-6 at home, while the Knicks are 10-17 on the road.

Then again, Derrick Rose is not 100 percent, as beat reporter K.C. Johnson tweeted that Rose just recently came out of a walking boot.

In their three previous meetings this season, no game has been decided by more than five points.  Rose's health may be just what the Knicks need to overcome the Bulls on the road.

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