With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Sixers, Knicks and Bucks remain in the hunt for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. If the season ended today, the Knicks would take the seventh seed, the Sixers sneaking into the playoffs as the eighth seed and the Bucks would be vacationing earlier than desired as they would miss the cut as one of the top eight teams in the conference. Sean Deveney of Sporting News looks at the three teams on the playoff bubble and examines what's at stake for each respective franchise.
- Missing the playoffs would be damaging for the Knicks' reputation as a franchise and further dismay a fan base hungry for a team ready to challenge for a championship. Expectations have continued to increase in New York ever since the arrivals of Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, even though the trio may not be the perfect match for each other. Unfortunately for New York fans, the Knicks have only made the playoffs twice since 2001 and both times were swept in the first round including last season against the Celtics.
- If the Sixers complete their collapse and end up on the outside of the playoff picture, head coach Doug Collins may find himself reexamining his position with the club. After getting off to a strong start thanks to the league's top defense based on points allowed per game, the Sixers have continued to struggle offensively and lack consistency from their starting lineup. While Collins still has two years remaining on his contract and the backing of the Sixers ownership, the head coach may walk away from the job if the players cannot respond to his style of tutelage.
- John Hammond's future as the Bucks' general manager would become less likely to continue if the team fails to make the playoffs this season. Over the course of his tenure with the Bucks, Hammond has exhibited quality decision-making in his drafting of Brandon Jennings, but has made questionable choices including the decision to take Joe Alexander in the 2008 draft. Deveney says simply making the playoffs for the second time during his stint in Milwaukee should be good enough to keep Hammond employed with the Bucks.