NBA Playoffs 2024 format, dates, rounds: Analyzing potential Knicks first-round foes

The 2024 NBA Playoffs will begin in a little over a month.
New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson
New York Knicks, Jalen Brunson / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Somehow, the 2023-24 regular season is coming to an end. In a few weeks, the Play-In Tournament will start. Hopefully, the New York Knicks will finish as a top-six seed in a stacked Eastern Conference and avoid the tournament.

It's still too early to determine who New York could face in the first round, but it's never too early to analyze the teams it could be.

2024 NBA Playoff format

The top eight seeds from each conference will play in the first round of the playoffs: the No. 1 vs. No. 8 seeds, No. 2 vs. No. 7 seeds, No. 3 vs. No. 6 seeds, and No. 4 vs. No. 5 seeds.

The winner of the No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed game will face the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed in the conference semifinals, and the winner of the No. 2 vs. No. 7 seed and No. 3 vs. No. 6 seed will play. From there, the winners will go head-to-head in the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.

When do the 2024 NBA Playoffs start?

The NBA Play-In Tournament will be held from April 16-19. The first round of the playoffs will start on April 20 and run through June 23, the scheduled date for Game 7 of the 2024 NBA Finals.

How can I watch the 2024 NBA Playoffs?

The playoffs will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV. To watch the games that are not broadcast on TNT, check out fuboTV for a free subscription. Max offers a Bleacher Report Sports Add-On that includes TNT.

Who could the Knicks play in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs?

If the season ended today, the Knicks would be the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and have homecourt advantage over the No. 5 Sixers in the first round. The Knicks are 3.5 games back from the No. 3 Cavaliers. The No. 6 Magic are a half game back from the Sixers, the No. 7 Heat are one game back from the Sixers, and the No. 8 Pacers are two games back from the Sixers.


It wouldn't be surprising if the Knicks and Cavaliers have a playoff rematch, whether as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds or the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds. If that happens, fans can bet that Cleveland will come out swinging.

The Cavaliers added two shooters in Max Strus and Georges Niang in the offseason. Jarrett Allen was deserving of an All-Star reserve spot.

The Cavaliers could be the toughest out of the other potential first-round matchups for the Knicks. Even then, New York could walk away with another series win, especially if Mitchell Robinson is healthy and ready to go. He shut down Allen and Evan Mobley last year.

New York is 2-1 against Cleveland this season.


The Knicks are down several key players, while the Sixers are down their superstar. Joel Embiid hasn't played since Jan. 30, when he suffered a meniscus injury. He underwent surgery on Feb. 6. He recently resumed on-court workouts, a good sign for Philadelphia.

Without Embiid, Philadelphia has dipped in the standings. He has a concerning injury history, so there's no certainty that he'll return to being the dominant player he was in the first half of the 2023-24 season. His playoff resume isn't that impressive, either. Even so, if the Knicks and Sixers were to square off in the first round, Philadelphia wouldn't go down easy.

Let's not forget about Tyrese Maxey, who is averaging a career-high 26 points and 6.3 assists per game. When he and Embiid are clicking, they're hard to stop.

New York is 2-0 against Philadelphia this season.


The Magic have had the Knicks' number this season, but the playoffs are a different beast. The biggest advantage New York has over Orlando is postseason experience.

The Magic have star power in Paolo Banchero (22.9 points per game) and Franz Wagner (20.5 points per game). While that duo has helped make Orlando a threat, the Magic haven't played a healthy Knicks squad. If these two teams meet up in the playoffs, New York would be a different team than the one Orlando has seen.

New York is 0-3 against Orlando this season.


The Heat are always going to be a threat. It doesn't matter what the roster looks like. As long as Erik Spoelstra is in charge, Miami's a contender.

The thing with the Heat is that they turn into a different team in the postseason, so it's hard to judge them based on the regular season. Playoff Jimmy is real. Tyler Herro is healthy and averaging 20.8 points per game. Bam Adebayo is somehow still an underrated center.

If New York and Miami meet in the playoffs for the second consecutive year, things would be different than 2023. The Knicks have shooters now. With a healthy OG Anunoby, their defense is suffocating. Miami shouldn't want to see New York in the postseason just as much as New York shouldn't want to see Miami.

New York is 2-0 against Miami this season.


Led by Tyrese Haliburton, who is averaging a career-best 20.8 points and 11.3 assists per game, and Pascal Siakam, the Pacers have the second-best offensive rating in the league (second to the Celtics). Indiana runs a fast-paced offense that's hard to stop. If only defense didn't matter in the postseason.

Tom Thibodeau makes his team take pride in their defense, a trait that comes in handy in the playoffs. It doesn't matter who Indiana faces in April. If they can't figure it out on the defensive end, they'll be an early exit.

New York is 1-2 against Indiana this season.

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