The Knicks beat the Hornets in overtime on Saturday afternoon to earn their 40th win of the season.
Here’s a look at what’s at stake for the Knicks in the final 30 hours of the season:
How Knicks can finish with No. 4 seed
If Milwaukee beats Miami on Saturday night, the Knicks can finish in fourth with a win over Boston on Sunday.
In this scenario, the Knicks would play the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.
Atlanta owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami. So even if the Hawks lose their final regular season game and the Heat win theirs, they’d finish fifth in the Eastern Conference because of that tiebreaker with Miami.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Julius Randle said after recording a 33-point, 13-assist, 10-rebound triple-double on Saturday and lifting the Knicks in overtime against Charlotte. “We’ll be ready for whatever the challenge is.”
If Miami beats Milwaukee, Knicks will likely finish No. 6 and face Bucks
Let’s say the Heat beat the Bucks on Saturday night. That means the Knicks, Hawks and Heat would enter the final day of the regular season with identical records (40-31).
The Heat face Detroit (20-51) on the road at 8 p.m. on Sunday. The Hawks host the Rockets (17-54) at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The Knicks host the Celtics at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
If the Knicks beat the Celtics, they’d need the Hawks or Heat to lose to avoid finishing with the No. 6 seed.
The NBA’s multi-team tie rules state that the team that wins their division wins the tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker is head-to-head record.
If Atlanta, Miami and New York all finish 41-31, Atlanta would win the Southeast Division and earn the No. 4 seed. Miami owns the tiebreaker over the Knicks based on head-to-head record, so the Heat would get the No. 5 seed and the Knicks would finish sixth. New York would face Milwaukee in the first round.
The possibility of a Knicks-Nets first-round series would also end if Miami beats the Bucks on Saturday. A Bucks loss on Saturday would clinch the No. 2 seed for Brooklyn.
So the Nets would face one of the teams that advance out of the play-in round. Boston, Charlotte, Washington and Indiana will compete in the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference.