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playoffs!

Whimsy Time: Can the Knicks Make the Playoffs?

Occasionally, just to keep ourselves occupied, we will engage in some far-fetched speculative reactionary whimsy around these parts. We'll come up with a ridiculous theory and attempt to defend it, using our special blend of lighthearted flimsiness and a splash of nonsensical alchemy. In other words, it'll be like every other bullsnoot "hey, just throwing this out there!" column you read everywhere else, but more spritely! Today: Five Reasons the Knicks Can Make the Playoffs! (See how it works?)

So, here goes.

1. They're playing well right now. The Knicks have won three of four, beating the Hawks, Suns and Nets, and not even looking all that horrible against the Magic. As the Post pointed out, those three wins have coincided with almost no playing time for Nate Robinson, despite fans' pleas for him.

2. They're already not that far back. Okay, so they're currently thirteenth in the Eastern Conference, at 6-15. Ignore that math! They're only two and a half games behind eighth-place Toronto, and the season's only a quarter of the way over.

3. The Eastern Conference is terrible. Only five teams in the conference have winning records. Isn't that amazing? Statistically improbable, but true. The conference is top-heavy: The current No. 7 seed Charlotte Bobcats just lost to the Nets. The Nets.

4. Mike D'Antoni has the fever. Considering how depressed he's looked most of this season, the mustachioed one went downright giddy yesterday. "If we want to make the playoffs," D'Antoni said, "and I know we have a long way to go, our defense has to get way better." He said the p-word. With no draft pick next year, it's a concrete goal, anyway.

5. The team does look better. Really. Despite rumblings that the Knicks are considering a trade of Al Harrington to the Bulls for Tyrus Thomas, the team is beginning to look less wretched, thanks largely to Harrington. You'll know how serious the Knicks are about trying to make the playoffs by what they do with Harrington. The move is probably exactly the type of one they should be making — Thomas has been disappointing, but he's still young and a potentially nice cog in D'Antoni's offense — but the Knicks need to show progress, and keeping Harrington around makes a playoff run at least conceivable. If they hold onto Harrington, you'll know they're going for it. Trying is half the battle, or at least just a little less.

Verdict: Cool Standings gives the Knicks a 15.2 percent chance of sneaking in. We'll take that.

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