Really, though, they've already accomplished the most important goal, just by making the playoffs and producing some nice highlights.
Derrick Rose has been knifing through two, three, sometimes four defenders and still finding ways to score. Joakim Noah put the wrath of Cleveland on his shoulders, then stepped up under pressure to deliver 25 points and 13 rebounds in Game 2.
I agree that making the playoffs gave us a heck of a lot more credibility than missing them. I've been arguing that point with those who've been hoping for a 2% chance at a top three pick for awhile.
I don't think our play against Cleveland ha raised the bar any though. We've done a nice job of not embarrassing ourselves, but it's going to take more to leave a lasting positive impression on free agents this summer.
Two wins, and I think free agents will say "wow they played Cleveland as tough as anyone" after Cleveland wins the title later this year. One win, and I think we'll be respectable. Zero wins, regardless of how hard we fight, won't earn us anything more than we've already earned in terms of respect.
McGraw also adds this scary tidbit:
One thing that appears certain this summer is it will take a maximum contract to get Bosh or Johnson. The Knicks didn't create all that cap room to park it in a mutual fund. They've geared up for a spending spree and likely will offer massive deals to both players.
I can't disagree with that speculation. It's going to take a max contract to get Joe Johnson. If we're willing to throw down that money on Joe Johnson then we'd better be willing to go into the tax, or this team's in real trouble going forward, and history doesn't support us going into the tax. Maybe the prime of Derrick Rose's career will be different. We can only hope.