CLEVELAND — The Knicks were believed to have reduced their magic number to clinch a playoff berth to one with Wednesday night’s gritty win over the Heat, but there remains a small mathematical chance they could wind up in the play-in tournament.

Even with Friday’s victory over the Cavaliers the Knicks could still finish in a tie with the Nets or the Heat for spots 5 and 7. They will end up in seventh place because of the complex tiebreaker system.

The excitement over Wednesday’s win over the Heat also was tempered by the ankle injury suffered by All-Star forward Julius Randle, who is expected to be out for the remainder of the regular season and possibly the start of the playoffs on April 15 after the team announced he will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Barring a collapse in Randle’s absence, Friday’s road game against Donovan Mitchell and the No. Still, the Knicks have the most likely matchup against the Cavaliers in the first round.

Julius Randle reacts after injuring his ankle in the first half of the Knicks’ win over the Heat.
Robert Sabo at NY Post

“You go step by step,” Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s win increased the Knicks’ lead over seventh-place Miami to four games with five to play. “I just think [Wednesday’s win was] It was important because it was the next match. We want to be playing well now. We want our best.

“The challenges, they don’t stop. Enjoy the win, and then get ready for Cleveland. We know how good Cleveland is, so we’re going to have to be our best on the road.”

The Knicks (44-33) tried to acquire Mitchell, who was a four-time All-Star and is averaging a career-high 27.6 point per game from the Jazz last season before he was traded to the Cavaliers (42-49).

Thibodeau’s team also leads the Nets by 2 ½ games for the No. 5 seed in East.

Josh Hart averages 10.9 points and 6.7 rebound in his 20 games since Thibodeau bought him from Portland. “sort of a Swiss Army knife” After a 13-point, 8-board effort against Heat.

Josh Hart dunks against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.
Josh Hart does a dunk against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

“It’s been a seamless transition. He’s added a lot to our team,” Thibodeau stated. “I think the toughness and competitiveness has been huge for us. He can protect multiple positions, clearly. [is] An elite rebounder. A big loose-ball, hustle-type guy who can hit timely shots and push the ball. You can also start your offense with him.

“He does everything, and he just makes us function well. So when Julius went out, we had him as the backup [power forward], and he did a terrific job for us.”

Jarrett Allen (groin), Isaac Okoro is out with a knee injury and Jarrett Allen has been declared doubtful for Saturday’s Cavaliers game.