With last night's 110-81 thrashing of the rival Nets, the Knicks not only won their third-straight game and their eleventh of fourteen, but they also propelled themselves [by percentage points] into the East's 8th and final playoff spot over the struggling Atlanta Hawks. But with all six of their remaining games against playoff teams, the excitement could be short-lived.
Last Ranking: 21
19. Denver Nuggets 33-42
In a disappointing first-year for former Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, the Nuggets have been derailed by injuries. It will be interesting to see, should they get their squad fully-healthy, where they end up in the tightly-contested West next year. But with six of their final seven games against legitimate title-contenders they'll likely fail to reach 35 wins.
Last Ranking: 19
20. New Orleans Pelicans 32-43
Anthony Davis leaving Wednesday's game with back spasms has to worry Pelicans fans. He is their future and a double-double machine. But with upcoming games against the Trailblazers, Suns, Rockets [twice,] and Thunder [twice,] it might be wise just to let the injury-prone big man sit out the rest of the season. It would be a terrible thing for this team to be ready for a trip back to the playoffs for the first time since the Chris Paul era just to see Davis go down to some season-ending back injury.
Last Ranking: 20
21. Atlanta Hawks 32-42
Although the Hawks have lost six of their last seven games and fell behind to the Knicks [as mentioned above] in the race to be annihilated by Miami in the first round, the Knicks [as mentioned above] have one of the toughest schedules in the league remaining, while the Hawks have an up-and-down schedule remaining with tough-games @ Indiana and against Miami but also more-than-winnable games against Boston, against Detroit, against Cleveland, and @ Milwaukee.
Last Ranking: 18
22. Cleveland Cavaliers 31-45
The Cavaliers seemed to be out of the playoff picture just a couple of days ago, they were far behind the Hawks for the East's #8 seed and had to play the East-best Pacers without superstar Kyrie Irving. But somehow they miraculously won that game, and with just one game remaining against a team with a winning-record, they could potentially make a run at the playoffs and a first-round humiliation from Miami that three teams [New York, Atlanta, and Cleveland] are all chasing.
Last Ranking: 22