How NY Knicks Match Up Against Every Potential Conference Playoff Opponent

Mathias Ask@@MathiasAskCorrespondent IIApril 11, 2013

How NY Knicks Match Up Against Every Potential Conference Playoff Opponent

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    The New York Knicks are playoff bound, and it's time to take a look at their potential postseason opponents. 

    The Knicks just capped off an outstanding week by defeating the Washington Wizards for their 13th consecutive victory and clinching their first Atlantic Division title since 1994. 

    While Eastern Conference seeding has not been settled, all playoff teams have been determined and fans nationwide are starting to figure out which teams match up against one another. 

    In the Knicks’ case, fans can’t help but stay optimistic after the way the team has been playing the last two weeks.

    New York is enjoying its longest winning streak of the season and has a 2.5-game lead over the Indiana Pacers in the race for the No. 2 seed

    Here’s every team the Knicks could face at some point in the conference playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Current record: 37-41

    The Bucks have clinched a playoff spot with four games remaining despite holding a losing record. Barring a resurgence from Milwaukee and a complete meltdown from the Boston Celtics, the Knicks and the Bucks likely will not meet in the playoffs.

    If they did, the Bucks wouldn't offer much of a challenge.

    Milwaukee is only ranked 21st in offensive efficiency and wouldn't be able to keep up with New York, which is third in the league.

    The last time these two teams met, Carmelo Anthony tied Bernard King’s record for consecutive games with 40 points or more and the Knicks prevailed 101-83.

    The Bucks are in the playoffs because the Eastern Conference is weak, not because they are a solid team. 

Boston Celtics

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    Current record: 40-38

    If the playoffs started now, this is the team New York would face in the first round. It’s a matchup every Knicks' fan should want.

    There is simply too much to avenge: numerous division titles lost, the sweep in the first round in the playoffs from two years ago and Kevin Garnett’s Honey Nut Cheerios comment.

    On paper, there isn't a reason for the Knicks to lose to Boston. The Celtics are without Rajon Rondo, they’re only two games above .500, and they’ve lost their last two games against New York by double digits.

    Still, I can’t shake the feeling that come playoff time, Paul Pierce still will put up 30-plus points per game and Garnett is going to have a resurgence. That’s how the Celtics operate, and it dragged them to the Eastern Conference finals last year.

    If the Knicks can avoid getting caught up in the moment and play the Celtics the way they’ve competed against them the last two times, they will win.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Current record: 43-36 

    Atlanta has an average offense, which ranks 15th in offensive efficiency and an above-average defense, which ranks 10th in defensive efficiency

    The Knicks could face the Hawks in the second round of the playoffs if Atlanta beats the Pacers in its possible first-round matchup. 

    New York has won both games against Atlanta this year after monster performances by Anthony, so at least the Knicks have the blueprint for success against the Hawks. 

    The Knicks have had trouble against certain Hawks players such as Josh Smith and Jeff Teague, but they haven’t posed a serious threat as of yet. 

    A New York-Atlanta series should be an easy triumph for the Knicks based on talent alone. While the Hawks have a center in Al Horford who can compete with Tyson Chandler, they don't have the same scoring capability as the Knicks have in Smith and Anthony.

Chicago Bulls

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    Current record: 42-35 

    The Chicago Bulls are a wild card in the playoffs. As they showed when they ended Miami’s streak, when they’re at their best, they can compete with anyone. Plus, the Bulls hold a 3-0 lead in the season series with the Knicks before Thursday’s game. 

    The question remains whether Chicago can find the one item that has eluded it all season: consistency. It’s one thing to show up for a high-profile game during the regular season, winning seven-game series in the postseason is quite another. 

    The Knicks’ biggest problem against Chicago has been figuring out how to stop Luol Deng. The small forward is averaging 28 PPG on 53 percent shooting from the field against New York this season

    If they can shut him down, the Knicks have a clear shot at a series victory.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Current record: 46-32

    A showdown between the Brooklyn Nets and the Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals would push basketball in New York City to a new level.

    It would be just the thing the Nets need to legitimize themselves in the eyes of their new hometown fans, and a lot would be on the line for the Knicks.

    These two teams have had epic battles this year and have split four games.

    On the Knicks’ side, the spark has usually been provided by Anthony while the Nets have terrorized the Knicks inside the paint with Brook Lopez.

    The Knicks will surely cheer for the Nets to not get out of the first round and if they do, you can be sure the blue and orange will hope that the Heat knock them out. The Nets are a scary fit for the Knicks and a loss to their cross-town rivals would be devastating.

Indiana Pacers

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    Current record: 49-29

    The Indiana Pacers deserve credit for staying among the top teams in the Eastern Conference despite missing Danny Granger. The Pacers are a scary-looking team because of their evenly talented roster.

    They don’t have a superstar, but they have Paul George, David West, George Hill and Roy Hibbert.

    This team won’t get a lot of time on SportsCenter Top 10 plays, but it can get you far in the playoffs.

    On Sunday, when these two teams meet in a potential showdown for the No. 2 seed, we’ll have a better idea of how they match up against each other.

    Presently, the way the Knicks are playing, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re capable of beating the Pacers.

    The last time these two teams met, the Pacers won 125-91, but that was on a horrible shooting night for Anthony where he went 7-of-21.

    Circumstances are going to be different on Sunday.

Miami Heat

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    Current record: 62-16

    The No. 1 reason the Knicks should be excited about this matchup is because the only way this can happen is if New York makes the Eastern Conference finals.

    In my opinion, the Knicks are the only team in the East that can challenge the Heat.

    No doubt, it would be difficult, and LeBron James has a history of outstanding play in conference finals, but the Knicks have proved that they can compete with Miami.

    The Knicks have Chandler who can take advantage of the Heat’s lack of height. Two other imperative elements for a Knicks' win are three-point shooting, which has to be perfect and Anthony.

    This is his stab at immortality, and if the Knicks are so fortunate that they make it to the conference finals, then they need Anthony to play at such a high level that he makes Bernard King look like Al Harrington.