Enormous Consequences: Bucks Have Knicks In Sights

Enormous Consequences is a daily look at the most impactful games in the NBA's playoff races.

The NBA Playoffs are just around the corner, as odd as that sounds in this lockout-shortened season, meaning the race to make the postseason is starting to heat up. The playoff picture likely won't get any clearer following Monday night's nine-game slate, but a few teams could move closer to securing their spot in the standings.

If the playoffs for some reason started out on this random Monday morning, the New York Knicks would face the Chicago Bulls as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. That isn't the case, though, so the Knicks will have to fend off the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night (7:30 p.m., NBA League Pass) in order to keep a foothold on the last playoff spot.

Milwaukee is 1.5 games behind the Knicks (and the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs), making Monday night's meeting at Madison Square Garden a crucial game.

With a nine-game slate, one would assume there are plenty of games with immediate playoff implications in place. Not so, but there are still a few games aside from the Bucks facing the Knicks that could further shape the postseason picture.

The Western Conference standings are very close with six teams within 2.5 games of each other, starting with the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers and spanning down to the 10th-place Phoenix Suns. That race will remain tight for awhile it seems, but a few of the teams have a chance to keep their position with wins to start the week.

The Utah Jazz, currently sporting a 26-23 record as part of a three-way tie for seventh place along with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, will look to avoid an upset when they visit the New Jersey Nets (7:30 p.m., NBA League Pass). The Sacramento Kings will look to play spoiler on Monday night, too, when they meet up with the Houston Rockets at 8 p.m., also on League Pass.

The Nuggets have a slightly more difficult matchup on Monday night in their bid to break said tie, though, with an 8 p.m. tip-off scheduled on NBA TV at the United Center for a meeting with the Chicago Bulls.

The only other Monday night matchup with both teams currently having playoff hopes will take place between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat (7 p.m., NBA TV). The Heat would need to collapse to miss the playoffs, while the Pacers currently sit comfortably in sixth place of the Eastern Conference standings, five games ahead of the eight-place Knicks.

SPOILER ALERT

ORLANDO at Toronto

BOSTON at Charlotte

Hornets at CLIPPERS

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