The New York Knicks will wrap up their 2016-17 campaign on Wednesday night (8 PM, MSG) against the Philadelphia 76ers. Neither team is in the playoff picture, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something important to play for; the 2017 draft lottery order has not been totally set, and the Knicks will likely be playing for a high position tonight at MSG.
Let’s break down what will be at stake:
The Knicks cannot finish higher than No. 6 in the tank rankings
We needed Philly to win one of their last seven games to give New York a chance to catch them at No. 6 by losing the season finale. Alas, the Sixers win for no one! That could be a serious problem, because…
The Knicks need to lose this game to assure themselves of the No. 6 spot
Damn the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team that sneaked past New York at the very end of the 2015 tank race — earning themselves Karl-Anthony Towns in the process — refuse to win a game despite superior talent. In their last two games they lost to the Lakers at the buzzer and a Thunder squad that was resting Russell Westbrook. Between all this and the aborted Ricky Rubio trade, few teams have hurt the Knicks as much in recent years. They are scum.
If the Knicks win and the Wolves lose on the road at Houston (guaranteed), the two teams will tie for the No. 6 spot in the lottery, earning equal odds. If neither jumps up into the lottery, a coin flip will decide draft position. SPOILER: The Wolves will win that coin flip.
Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony probably won’t play