How do The Knicks stack up against other playoff teams?

RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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RJ Barrett, Kyrie Irving, Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Knicks Matchup: The Brooklyn Nets

Head-to-head Record:  0-3

Avoid this team at all costs!

It’s not just that the Nets are the top seed in the East, or that they have the most offensive firepower in the league, or that the roster has 41 all-star appearances between them, they’re also just a bad matchup for New York.

It’s been well documented that the key to defeating the Nets will be to exploit them defensively, but the truth is that Brooklyn’s defensive weaknesses exist in an area that’ll be more difficult for NY to exploit.

The Nets have weak point-of-attack defenders. Kyrie, Harden, Joe Harris, these are perimeter guys, but their collective basketball IQ will no doubt improve their team defense come playoff time. This will allow teams with A-list superstars to punish the Nets, but against a team like the Knicks, a team that plays basketball as a collective, and a team that likes to get to the rim, this is just a bad matchup.

As fun as a “Battle of New York” subplot would be from a media perspective, the reality is this wouldn’t be a close series.

Knicks Matchup: The Philadelphia 76ers

Head-to-head Record:  0-3

While the season record looks grim, if you go back and watch those games you’ll realize they’re much closer than the clean 0-3 suggests.

In a series against these guys, scoring might be an issue. With Ben Simmons hounding Randle on the perimeter and Embiid waiting for him at the rim, if the Knicks want to win playoff games against the guys it’s going to have to be a team effort.

That’s where the young guys come in.

Philadelphia has a great team defense it’s true, but if the Knicks can punish the Sixers’ smaller guards then they may be able to force Philly into clogging themselves up.  If Barrett, Quickly, Burks, and Rose can play Seth Curry and Danny Green off the floor, then the Sixers are forced to play their more defensive-minded players and their whole offense comes crumbling down.

This would be a knock-down-drag-out series, and really the Knicks would have to play exceptionally well to win it, but if they do it’ll be as a collective.

Knicks Matchup: The Milwaukee Bucks

Head-to-head Record:  2-1

Yes, the other team has Giannis Antetokounmpo, but if Head Coach Tom Thibodeau had to choose one of these top-tier teams, he’d have to go with the Bucks.

The Knicks are a bad matchup for Giannis, plain and simple. They build the wall, Randle is the perfect blend of speed and strength to defend him, the Knicks have a bunch of long wings to switch, and they have some real rim-protecting centers with Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson, and maybe Mitchell Robinson.

If the Knicks and to pick their poison with these three elite teams, better to go with the Bucks. They play them really well, and better to meet a team you don’t have to outthink as well as out work.