Will the Knicks and 76ers have a tank battle over Chicago?

With Miami's loss to Boston, the Bulls are locked into the #1 seed in the East. The 76ers already announced they'll rest Iguodala, Brand, and Williams in the final two games prior to the playoffs. Who could say they're tanking? Players typically go out there and try to win games, and coaches tank games by just not putting the best players on the floor. Or so goes the theory...

However, it wasn't that long ago that we saw the Clippers and Grizzlies play head to head in a tank-off to see which team could fall from the five seed to the sixth seed. The five seed had to play Dallas while the sixth seed drew Denver. Dallas had the second best record in the west while Denver was only in position to be the three seed because they won their division. The Clippers won the tank-off, and made it past Denver to the second round while the Grizzlies were annihilated by the Mavs.

It likely won't get quite that sinister with teams Philly and New York as they don't go head to head the rest of the season in a game in which the winner would win the matchup they don't want, but make no mistake both teams want to play Chicago. Philly has the upper hand if they're willing to throw games and start benching anyone who's productive since they "lose" the tiebreaker with New York on the season record.

One more thing New York fans can blame Carmelo on, why did he have to play like a bad ass against Atlanta a couple of nights ago to drive the Knicks to a one point win?

While the Bulls locked up home court against the Heat, the question of home court against San Antonio and Oklahoma City still remains open. Chicago needs one more win against the Thunder and two against the Spurs. Personally, I'm not worried about the Spurs coming out of the west or the Bulls beating them if they make it out of the East, but the Thunder are just as stiff a challenge as the Heat.

Chicago has already said they won't rest guys because they want to get into a rhythm, but Thibodeau did indicate they might limit minutes, and it's certainly possible we won't see guys going all out, but rather working on specific plays, sets, or defensive rotations. It's a good time to whip out that zone defense for a couple of games in preparation for Miami later or just get Rip and Rose some playing time together.

Despite neither team having much to play for and no possibility of meeting until the ECF, the Pacers will likely be looking to make a statement tonight. I doubt the Bulls will aim to match their intensity, so it's easy to see a win for the Pacers. Chicago can pick up a win to clinch homecourt against the Thunder tomorrow at home against Cleveland or figure that homecourt isn't as meaningful (due to the different format) in the finals anyway and not worry about it.

Rhythm or rest?

You could argue the Bulls need both more than most teams. Derrick Rose is still likely not 100%, but the team also desperately needs to get some minutes with their key players on the floor together. At the same time, are they really building a useful rhythm if Rose continues to play his conservative Chris Duhon game rather than his explosive normal game in order to not take any chances?

The Bulls won't actually be building up a rhythm of how they expect/hope to play later which then begs the question why bother? At the same time, the Bulls certainly don't want Derrick Rose driving to the rim with reckless abandon in a couple of games with little meaning.

Chicago likely takes the middle ground playing starters for 25-30 minutes at half speed.

Road to the finals

I'll do some more in depth playoff stuff later, but a quick look at probable match ups, and things shake out like this:

1 Chicago vs 8 Philly (New York is very much alive here and could be the match up still)
2 Miami vs 7 New York (or Philly)
3 Indiana vs 6 Orlando (boy did Indy win the first round wuss lottery)
4 Boston vs 5 Atlanta (but Hawks get home court, since it's based on record not seed though if Boston wins and Atlanta loses in the finale home court will go to Boston)

Chicago likely goes through Philly, Boston, Miami to get to the finals

For those looking out west, it breaks down like this:
1 San Antonio vs 8 Utah (locked in)
2 Oklahoma City vs 7 Dallas (Dallas owns the tiebreaker with Denver so could move up to 6 with a win and a Denver loss)
3 Lakers vs 6 Denver (could drop down to 7 with a loss in their final 2 and a Dallas win)
4 Clippers vs 5 Memphis (clippers get home court with win against New York or Memphis loss)

I predict the Thunder come out of the West, but I think San Antonio has a nice draw right now getting either Memphis or the Clippers in the second round while OKC draws a tough Dallas team in round one, and a resurgent Lakers squad in round two.

Comments

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  • Honestly I'd prefer the rest, but they certainly need to get into a rhythm so like you mentioned 25-30 should do it. I'm very happy we avoided the pacers this post season. Philly scares me some as they Trap Derrick as soon as he crosses half and he makes that dangerous jump pass which can easily get picked off, but in a series bulls will adjust and win In 6. NY is a different story, they just scare the crap out of me. I get kind of Golden State vs Dallas in 07 feel. Melo is just so good and with amare returning they look good. I still would give the edge to the Bulls but it would be nerve racking for sure

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    The New York Knicks still have a chance for the 6th seed if they win out the last two games and Orlando Magic lose the last two games.

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    In reply to Danny Guerra:

    New York has the tiebreaker won against Orlando. Philly does not have the tiebreaker won against Orlando. So, Philly is either 8th or 7th. Orland is 6th or 7th. New York is 8th, 7th, or 6th.

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    In reply to Danny Guerra:

    Anyways, I don't see Orlando losing to the Bobcats tonight at home. So there's a 98% chance Orlando gets the 6th seed.

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    You are correct, my bad. I had for some reason had it in my head that New York lost a game since the win out/lose out scenario started, but I am mistaken.

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    The Bobcats want to get a win to avoid being the worst team ever ... don't discount it as motivation. Obviously Orlando is very likely to win, but an upset wouldn't surprise me.

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    The longshot of the Knicks getting the 6th seed is the worst-case scenario for the Bulls. Miami would then face Orlando in Round 1, which means they'd have only one tough playoff series (against Indiana or NY in the second round) rather than two difficult series (NY followed by, presumably, Indiana). It'll take a lot out of the Heat to beat both the Knicks and the Pacers, one hopes.

  • I've always been a fan of resting Players, but right now
    I'm not.

    - Rose needs to find his rhythm
    - Resting Deng.....why? He will still need a surgery
    -Resting Carlos??? Hell no....he's in good shape.
    - Noah is the only guy I might agree.
    - Rip needs his time with all Starters.

  • Man Thunder and Heat look to have tough road to finals if either win then they earned it for sure.

  • In reply to Chad:

    The bulls will have it much easier than the heat thats for sure. There's no reason the bulls don't get to hecf.

  • In answer to your question, will the Knicks and 76ers have a tank battle over Chicago, the answer is obviously no, or else the Knicks would have lost to Atlanta.

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    In reply to RichG:

    Knicks are gunning for the 6th seed. So I don't expect them to tank unless the 6th seed is out of the question. Philly will begin to tank tonight. So I expect the Bulls to play Philly. Orlando plays the Bobcats tonight and I expect them to win it. So the Knicks will end up playing Miami.

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    I'm sure the Knicks would prefer the 6th seed, but they should have thought of that while they were losing to Cleveland last week.

  • Bulls can clinch a Philly matchup tonight, and probably home court over OKC tomorrow. Similar to an NFL preseason game, I would expect the starters to go but not overextend themselves, especially against the aggressive Pacers. This is not the time for Derrick to start driving the lane. Still, they can get some rhythm back, especially tomorrow. I'm sure the 3 days off while practicing helped. As long as they stay healthy, 3-4 weeks until the ECF should be enough time to hit their stride & play their best ball of the season.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    The Bulls cannot actively "clinch" a Philly matchup tonight, since such a matchup depends entirely on Philly and NY. The Bulls have already clinched the #1 seed in the east. They will face the #8 seed whomever it is. The only way we'll know our Round 1 matchup for sure tonight is if Philly loses and NY wins; it has nothing to do with how the Bulls perform.

    On the other hand, the Bulls only need to win one of their final two games to actively "clinch" home court over OKC, should they (fingers crossed!) meet in the finals. Right now, we have two fewer losses than OKC, but not the tiebreaker. That means one win by us (today or tomorrow) or one loss by them puts us ahead no matter what.

    Earning home-court over San Antonio, meanwhile, requires winning at least as many games as the Spurs themselves do to close the season. That is, if the Spurs go 0-2, we can lose both our games; if they win 1, we need to win 1; if they win both, we need to win both.

  • This whole NY/Philly 'tank' thing is ridiculous. It isn't like trying to tank so as to get Denver instead of the Mavs; it is pick your poison Tank. Resting players to rest players makes sense, and NY playing to get Indiana to have Lin in pocket if they make it to round 2 makes a LOT of sense. Bulls or Heat is 6 of one and half-dozen of another (or 6 dozen of one half of another as my mother says) and doubt anyone is playing to get one or the other.

    Personally the only player I like to watch on the Heat is Wade whose game I think is miles ahead of LeBron. As a NYer I remember fondly the old rivalry, and love the way Chicago plays ball now so would prefer to see that go to seven whoever wins. I think with Stat back and playing well it will be a great series.

  • In reply to msnyc:

    Whomever the Knicks play (Miami or Chicago) will be a fun series, more fun than a typical 2/7 or 1/8 matchup.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    More fun then I care for the Heat to have. Even if it doesn't go 7 games, the Heat will have to work hard to win this series. Just dealing with the New York media might fatigue Wade and Lebron for later rounds.

  • Well if they were tanking they're terrible at it.

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    The knicks should not tank! i think they have a better shot against miami! I can tell you why but theres too much so i wrote it on my blog so come check it out! http://nbawagers.com/2012/04/who-is-the-better-matchup-for-the-knicks-heat-or-bulls/

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