Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 4/26/12

Following the Knicks' 99-93 win over the Clippers last night, gearing up for the playoffs will become first priority. With just one game left in the regular season (tonight against the lowly Bobcats), and game one of the playoffs to be played on Saturday, the team can use all the rest they can get.

This is why, according to ESPN New York, Carmelo Anthony is expected to sit out the season's final game tonight. What's more, it's believed Tyson Chandler will play limited minutes as well, if he plays at all.

Should the Knicks beat the NBA's worst team tonight in Charlotte, they will automatically clinch the Eastern Conference's seventh seed, no matter what else happens. That said, should New York lose and the 76ers win, the Knicks will drop down to the eighth seed.

No matter where they land on the playoff ladder, the Knicks will have a formidable opponent either way. Though the Bulls are recognized as the conference's best team by way of seeding, the offensive firepower of the Heat may very well prove too hot for New York to handle. The Knicks have the ability to shut down the Bulls if they throw off Derrick Rose, thus setting a negative tone for the entire team. There's no one main source of productivity on the Heat, however. Because they can hit you in a number of different ways, there's no one player to stop as a means of throwing off the entire team.

Nevertheless, they Knicks will have a tough matchup ahead of them regardless. Due to the lockout, the league's segue into the playoffs is so tightly packed in. Aside from not risking any injuries, key contributors may simply benefit from an extra day of rest.

Anthony and Chandler have represented the team's two anchors, respectively, on offense and defense. Though Amar'e Stoudemire impact is certainly crucial to New York's playoff success, he could in fact benefit from some more burn on the court. Still making his way back from a back injury that plagued him for weeks, STAT could use the season's final game to continue to find a rhythm offensively. Perhaps the fact that Anthony will sit means the big man will also get more touches as well. Being featured as the main option on offense tonight could help Stoudemire build up a bit of momentum heading into the postseason.

Those suggesting the Knicks are tanking by resting two of their better players (in hopes of securing the eighth seed in order to play the Bulls instead), should think twice. Instead, the type of effort and drive the team exudes will define what they're ultimate plan is (rather than which players actually take the court). As we have seen this season, the Knicks have been able to win with various players stepping up. If the likes of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak heat up from deep, they alone can be enough to carry the team to victory. What's more, the fact that Stoudemire will be the team's offensive leader tonight may motivate him to erupt for a powerful points explosion.

Despite all that potential, Coach Woodson may very well choose to only play many of his key players limited minutes in preparation for a much more intense series ahead. We'll see if all of this speculation as to who steps up becomes a moot point later tonight.
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