Carmelo Anthony has never missed the playoffs in his 11-year career, but the Knicks trail the Hawks by 1.5 games for the final postseason spot in the East heading into their game in Phoenix on Friday night.
With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Knicks (30-42) are assured of their first losing season since 2009-10. But with the Hawks on a five-game losing streak and the Knicks having won nine of their last 11, New York is still very much in contention for a playoff berth.
Anthony — who has never been on a losing team through high school, college (when he won the national title with Syracuse in his only season there) and the pros — said making the playoffs would salvage the season, via Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Once you’re in the playoffs nobody really looks at the regular season. It’s over with. Everybody starts zero-zero. Our goal is to get in.
“I’ve never had a losing record before,” he added. “This year has been a very challenging year, mentally, emotionally for me. But I still find ways to just remain positive throughout this situation and try to win basketball games. Throughout all of this, we still have a chance to get in the postseason. That’s most important."
In 10 postseason appearances, Anthony's teams have only advanced past the first round twice, including last year, when the Knicks lost to the Pacers in the conference semifinals.
To put in perspective how weak the Eastern Conference is this season outside of Miami and Indiana, the Suns (43-29), who are clinging to a half-game lead over the Mavericks for the final spot in the West, would be third in the East.
The Knicks made the playoffs with a losing record in 2003-04, when they went 39-43 and then were swept by the Nets in the first round. SI WIRE: Marshall contacts Lakers coach, alum Mike D'Antoni about coaching vacancy