Welcome to your Daily NBA Fix for Monday, March 24, the morning after the New York Knicks might have heard the death knell to their late-season playoff push.
The Knicks took one on the chin at home Sunday, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers to fall three games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 8 spot in the East with 12 games to play.
New York still has a chance. It would just be a better chance without another damaging loss at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks are just 16-21 this season.
Home court might just turn out to be the deciding factor on why the Knicks could spend the spring at the golf course instead of on the hard court. As bad as the East has been this season—two of the top eight teams have sub-.500 records—none of the teams in the top eight has a losing record at home. The worst home-court mark among those eight clubs belongs to the Washington Wizards, who are 17-16 at the Verizon Center.
Then again, losing a lot at home would not seem to be conducive to making a playoff appearance. It’s been 10 years since a team made the postseason with a losing home record.
The Boston Celtics, who were 19-22 at what was then called the FleetCenter in 2003-04, made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the East at 36-46. Shockingly, the Celtics were swept by Indiana in the first round, losing Games 3 and 4 at home by 23 and 15 points, respectively.
So the Knicks have an uphill climb, a climb made steeper by the fact they won’t finish above .500 at home.
Then again, it’s probably worth pointing out that since the beginning of the NBA’s modern era (the implementation of the 3-point shot in 1979-80), only one team with fewer than 50 regular-season wins (in a full season) has won a title. The Houston Rockets were 47-35 in 1994-95 before going on a playoff run to repeat as champs.
And they were 29-12 at home.
The Daily NBA Fix will deliver highlights, game capsules, the top and bottom five players, the dreaded Goose Egg, Clean and Sober and Ironman awards, we’ll recap who’s circling the drain, there will be some interesting pieces of relevant (and not-so-relevant) information and we’ll look at today’s daily lines for those people who like to wager a buck or two.
Check out the highlights below from the night that was, then get into the game capsules (home teams in CAPS).