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Beasts of the Atlantic: The Knicks Division has Become the Toughest in the NBA

NBA Knicks Division

If you’ve been following the NBA this season, you know that the Knicks division is one of the toughest in the league. Alongside New York, the division features the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors, who recently clinched a play-in berth.

The importance of NBA divisions is often unknown by the fans. Many people are unaware of how they impact team schedules and, more importantly, the potential implications they have on playoff matchups.

In this article, we are digging into the strength of the Atlantic division. We will share the impact it had on the New York Knicks this season and the potential ramifications still to come. We’ll also take a look at how it will shape the 2023 NBA playoffs. And of course, we’ll compare it to the worst division in the league.

So, let’s break it down and see what makes the Knicks Division so special.

Why do division matchups matter in the NBA?

In the NBA, teams in the same division play each other four times during the regular season, twice at home and twice away.

Each team in the NBA belongs to one of six divisions, and within each division, there are five teams, for a total of 30 NBA teams. The four games played against divisional opponents make up a significant portion of a team’s regular-season schedule. They account for a total of 16 out of 82 games.

These divisional matchups are particularly important. They can have a significant impact on playoff seeding, as well as determining which teams qualify for the postseason. In NBA tiebreaker situations, it can come down to division record to determine final positions.

These are the tiebreaker situations for playoff seeding:

  1. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record between the two tied teams during the regular season.
  2. If the head-to-head record between the two teams is tied, then the tiebreaker moves to each team’s record against their respective conference.
  3. If the conference record is also tied, then the tiebreaker moves to each team’s record against their respective division.
  4. If the division record is also tied, then the tiebreaker moves to each team’s record against playoff teams in their respective conference.
  5. If the above tiebreakers do not determine a higher seed, then the NBA will conduct a random drawing to determine the higher seed.

For the New York Knicks, the NBA division rules meant a tougher strength of schedule during the regular season, and may still impact their playoff positioning. Every game in the Knicks division was a fight this season.

Depth of the Knicks division

The NBA Atlantic Division has been one of the deepest divisions in the league for years. To fully understand the depth of the division, keep in mind, it will make up more at least half of the Eastern conference playoff landscape.

In the past, teams in the Atlantic division have had the luxury of feasting on the Knicks four times a year. But this season has been different. The New York Knicks have proved the doubters wrong, playing a tough and gritty brand of basketball that competes with the best.

Knicks record against the division

The Knicks have performed admirably against the Atlantic division this season. Given these are some of the best teams in the NBA, that’s an encouraging sign for Knicks fans.

Here is the Knicks record against each team in the Atlantic:

  • vs Boston: 3-1
  • vs Brooklyn: 2-2
  • vs Philadelphia: 2-2
  • vs Toronto: 1-3

These records do not tell the full story. The Knicks could easily be 3-16 or 13-3, that’s how close these games have been within the division.

It is not easy battling against four of the toughest teams in the league, but it does provide an element of preparation for the big games in April. The New York Knicks are now battle tested. They are now 8-8 against division rivals, with three games going to overtime, one double overtime and another three decided by less than five points.

The Boston and New York rivalry reignited?

The Celtics are widely held as one of the top contenders to leave the Eastern conference in 2023. Caesars has them as the second favorite to win it all. This makes it even more impressive the way the Knicks performed against this unit.

Granted there were some games that were impacted by injuries, but that’s the NBA. The Boston Celtics have a deep roster, with a young core that can battle for years to come. Assuming they can stay together.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum averaged 27 and 28.8 points per game respectively in their four meetings. Although, while the Celtics duo scored at will, it was the Knicks that came out with the series victory.

Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley all had big games and moments throughout the series. This included huge shots from Barrett and a massive game from Quickley, without Brunson in the lineup.


Every game has a playoff atmosphere. You could feel the electricity, and with these rosters being so young, we could see many more NBA Atlantic division games like this in the future.

Tough matchup against Toronto in the Knicks division

The New York Knicks had their difficulties with the Toronto Raptors this season. They went 1-3 against the Raptors, and at times, looked too small and outmatched. The sheer size of Toronto, with some big games from Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, was too much for the Knicks.

While many of the games were close, at crucial moments, the Knicks did not have an answer for this Raptors team. A massive game from Pascal Siakam was the epitome of this. He walked into the Garden and dropped 52 game stealing points.

The Toronto Raptors are one of those teams that match up well with the Knicks. At every position on the floor, they have guys that can hurt you offensively. More importantly, they have a tough group that is always willing to compete defensively. Making them a difficult matchup for anyone.

It was rumored that the Raptors will look to rebuild in the near future. With that said, we have yet to see any trades come to fruition. Falling to the play-in is definitely an underachievement for this team, and if they get eliminated without making the playoffs, the 2023 NBA offseason could be a major outlook shift for the Raptors.

What is the worst division in the NBA?

While every division in the NBA is competitive in its own way, many analysts and fans agree that the Southeast Division is currently the weakest in the league.

The Southeast division includes the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards, and while there are certainly talented players and exciting moments on these teams, they have struggled to find consistent success in recent years.

In fact, in the 2020-2021 season, no team from the Southeast Division made it past the first round of the playoffs, and none of them finished with a winning record. Now, in the 2022-23 season, they haven’t fared much better. The Miami Heat are the only team with a winning record and they look set to fight for a playoff spot in the play-in tournament.

While this doesn’t mean that the division will always be weak, it’s clear that the Southeast has some work to do in order to catch up with some of the other, more competitive divisions in the NBA.

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