On Tuesday night, the New York Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, while the Detroit Pistons lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Naturally, the ‘Bockers are back to talking about their playoff push, right?
Head coach Jeff Hornacek conceded afterward that making the postseason is, at this stage, an unrealistic goal, per Newsday‘s Al Iannazzone:
Hornacek was holding out hope, as were many of the Knicks’ veterans that they could get on a little roll and sneak into the playoffs. The final straw may have been Sunday’s loss to the NBA-worst Nets when the Knicks played as if “it didn’t matter” according to Hornacek.
“Whether you’re in the playoffs or out of the playoffs you want to play hard the whole time,” Hornacek said. “The playoffs may not be in reach but this could [be a chance] for some of our other guys who might get some time to show what they really can do and build something for next year.”
Look at Hornacek thinking rationally, something for which the Knicks aren’t known.
Sure enough, here comes Derrick Rose to preserve the optics:
“I still haven’t — until I know the season’s over,” Rose said. “It’s kind of hard setting goals or having goals early on in the year and things don’t work out the way you want them to work out or plans don’t go exactly how you want them to go.”
Professional basketball players are confident. They have to be. This approach, however farfetched, wouldn’t be unique to Rose. But deep down he, just like everyone, has to know the Knicks aren’t making the playoffs.
They trail the eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks by six games (seven in the loss column), with 14 left to play. Even if they went 14-0, to reach 41-41, they would need the Bucks to go no better than 8-8, the Chicago Bulls to go no better than 8-7, the Miami Heat to go no better than 8-7 and the Charlotte Hornets to go no better than 11-4. That’s a tall order at every stop, including New York, except for Charlotte.
Hornacek is right to be thinking about next season. With draft-lottery positioning on the line, the rest of the team would do well to follow suit.