Joint of the day
The New York Knicks have won 14 of their last 15 games despite a roster that's hardly healthy, so getting some rest heading into the playoffs would be a welcome opportunity.
With a win Sunday, they can afford to do just that.
The Knicks look to clinch the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed when they host the Indiana Pacers in a preview of a potential second-round postseason clash.
New York was a game behind Indiana in the race for the second spot on March 17 after suffering its fourth consecutive defeat, but Thursday's 118-111 overtime loss in Chicago is its only setback since.
The Knicks (52-27) pulled three games ahead of the Pacers with Friday's 101-91 win at Cleveland coupled with Indiana's 117-109 home loss to Brooklyn, meaning New York can lock up the No. 2 seed Sunday. Even with a Pacers win - which would give them the season series 3-1 - the Knicks would need only one victory or one Indiana loss in the final two games to clinch.
But New York would like to take care of business Sunday, and give Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith a breather prior to the playoffs after they've combined to average 57.2 points over the past 15 games.
"It's very beneficial," Smith said of the chance to rest. "It means a lot. It's something we've been talking about consistently over the last few weeks, we've been wanting to lock up that two seed."
Finishing second would earn the Knicks a first-round date with Boston, but a showdown with Indiana could be looming in the East semifinals. The home team has won each of the first three meetings in the season series.
"We've proven this year we can win on the road, but it always helps to have home-court advantage," coach Mike Woodson said. "That goes a long way when you're trying to get to the Eastern Conference finals."
Even when Woodson's team beat the Pacers 88-76 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 18, Indiana caused problems for New York. The Knicks shot 36.7 percent in that game, and that was their most efficient performance against the Pacers this season.
[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]