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Playoff minutes determined in Knicks closing stretch
By MARC BERMAN
Last Updated: 6:23 PM, April 6, 2011
PHILADELPHIA -- The sixth seed in the Eastern Conference may or may not be a worthy cause to fight for across the final five games, but it surely would be nice for the Knicks to finish ahead of the 76ers.
A sixth seed could mean facing Boston instead of Miami in the first round, if the Celtics end up No. 3. The Celtics and Heat have flip-flopped between second and third for weeks and now are tied. Flip a coin, But Wednesday night’s game vs. the 76ers will be a distinct test on whether this Knicks’ four-game winning streak is a mirage or not. A victory would put the 'Melo-‘Mar'e Knicks at .500: 12-12. Amar’e Stoudemire has called it a big game and feels the sixth seed is worth fighting for. Philadelphia leads the season series 2-1 but has not faced the Knicks since the Feb. 22 trade.
Mike D’Antoni said his bench guys are on audition, that he could decide to play a seven-man rotation come playoff time next weekend.
D’Antoni has yet to figure out among the former Nuggets throw-ins who deserves to play. Shelden Williams has made a late charge as a serviceable starting center, though D’Antoni flip-flopped and started Jared Jeffries 20 minutes before tip-off against the Raptors because it was a better matchup against Andrea Bargnani.
“Guys on the bench, I told them, they’re more or less auditioning for the playoffs,’’ D’Antoni said. “I’m not going to play 12, 11 10 guys. Maybe nine, eight or seven, so you’re going to have to play and they’re auditioning . There should be competition on who's playing the best.’’
Scrappy veteran reserve point guard Anthony Carter right now appears in. Roger Mason (inactive Tuesday night) appears out. Shawne Williams, playing with a sore back, has slumped, this being his first full season of play. Billy Walker is on the bubble.
D’Antoni seems to be fazing out center Ronny Turiaf, who played six minutes Tuesday night in the Toronto blowout, unless he’s just saving his battered body. Turiaf has missed so many games this season with various knee and ankle ailments, D’Antoni may believe he can not be counted on.
Athletic second-year forward Derrick Brown, the waiver-wire pickup, finally got a look Tuesday night in garbage time: a 10-minute spot in which he threw down a mammoth left-handed dunk with such force, the entire Knicks bench went bananas. Brown has privately brooded the Knicks claimed him. The plan was for him to clear waivers and rejoin Charlotte after the trade deadline. Instead, he’s been inactive or just not played...
I don't like the way he's approaching this. We are not a well balanced team, so why pick only a certain group of players to use in the playoffs? Guys should be used based on game situation (as Clyde said) and if their not needed then fine but you can't say your only going to play x number of guys.
I'm sure they'll be a reason to play Turiaf, Williams and JJ in the same game. There may be a need for Walker and Carter depending on the situation. I just don't like his hard stance on not playing his entire available roster.