Contenders and Pretenders in the Eastern Conference: Are the Knicks a true threat?

The Knicks are a top team in the East.

New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson
New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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Contender: Miami Heat (35-30)

Miami could finish as the No. 10 seed in the East, and the Heat would still be contenders. Jimmy Butler takes playoff basketball to another level. The team comes alive in the postseason. It doesn't matter who is on the roster; all that matters is that Erik Spoelstra is the head coach.

Miami lost Strus and Gabe Vincent, key contributors to the 2023 NBA Finals run. However, this time, the Heat could have a healthy Tyler Herro, who's averaging a career-high 20.8 points per game. He's missed the past couple of weeks with a foot injury and is expected to miss a few more. His status is certainly worth monitoring. In June, they drafted Jaime Jaquez Jr., and he's been a good addition, averaging 12.8 points and four rebounds per game.

While every fan of a playoff-bound team will likely say they don't want their squad to face the Heat in the playoffs, the Knicks should welcome the matchup. New York has added a couple of shooters since 2023, namely Donte DiVincenzo. Bring it on!

Contender: New York Knicks (39-27)

The Brunson-DiVincenzo-Anunoby-Randle-Robinson starting lineup has so much potential. The Knicks have yet to put those five on the floor together, but it could happen in the postseason. The offensive firepower and defensive prowess are enough to stifle any opponent.

The Knicks still have hope if Randle and/or Robinson don't return in time for the playoffs. Brunson is unstoppable. DiVincenzo is having a career end on both ends. Anunoby is a defensive monster. Josh Hart gives 150 percent. Isaiah Hartenstein has proven he's worthy of being a starting center.

These last few weeks of the regular season will be critical for New York. If the Knicks can seize home-court advantage and get a couple more reinforcements, watch out!

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