Even in the season’s darkest moments, Tyson Chandler says he believed the Knicks would be close to a playoff berth in April.

The Knicks center sent out a message straight to South Beach, reiterating a theme some NBA executives believe, too: Miami and Indiana prefer not to see orange and blue in the first round in a 1 vs. 8 pairing.
“I always thought we’d really give our ourselves a shot of making the playoffs,’’ Chandler said late Monday after the Knicks finished their Western trip 3-2 after a 92-83 win in Utah. “I still believe if we get in there, somebody’s going to be in trouble.’’

As April dawns, the Nets become the first obstacle in the way of the Knicks (32-43) making a miracle finish, stunning James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Steve Mills and stealing the eighth seed from the slumping Hawks. Atlanta holds a one-game lead, two in the loss column, but its management may have an eye on the lottery.

The Knicks host the revived Nets Wednesday at the Garden, with the rematch April 15 in the season’s second-to-last game. Whether the Knicks still are ticking by then remains to be seen.

After all, the Knicks finish with seven games against Eastern Conference playoff teams.

“These last seven games are big for us, against teams that are going to give us a run for our money,’’ Carmelo Anthony said. “We have to go out there and accept that challenge. This schedule is not in our favor right now, but we got to go take games.”

The vodka would be flowing if the Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s team was responsible for kicking the Knicks out of the playoff picture and allowing Brooklyn the sole stage in New York. The Nets (39-33) are fighting for the Atlantic Division title, trailing Toronto by two games.