Opponent: New York Knicks
Location: Barclays Center
Time: 7:30 PM
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO app
Despite zero games, the Brooklyn Nets organization has had a busy week. The new practice facility was opened, a new general manager was hired, and trade inquiries went nowhere. Now that the All-Star Break, building unveilings, and trading deadlines are in the rearview mirror, the Nets (14-40) can get back to business on the court, starting tonight against the crosstown rival New York Knicks.
While making the playoffs appears to be an unrealistic goal for both teams, the questions regarding their trajectories into next season currently weigh on the minds of the fans. Neither team seems to have an apparent blueprint in place yet, but these inter-city matchups always generate some sizzle…even these days.
The Knicks (23-32), like the Nets, are starting the second half of the season with an interim coach. After Derek Fisher’s dismissal on February 8th, Kurt Rambis has taken the helm to ride out the rest of what has become a most disappointing season in Manhattan. The season started somewhat promising with the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis along with a deeper roster, but things have gone south in a hurry: the Knicks have dropped 10 of their last 11 games including their last six (five at home). If a turnaround is imminent, it will have to manifest on the road; the Knicks (9-17 road record) play 11 of their next 17 games on the road beginning tonight in Brooklyn.
This will be the third of four meetings this season between the Nets and Knicks. In their last meeting on January 13th, the Nets shot 52.3 from the field to beat the Knicks 110-104 in front of a sold-out crowd at Barclays Center. The Knicks, playing without Carmelo Anthony (ankle injury), were ahead by one with five minutes to play, but an ensuing 10-2 Nets run put them behind for good. Brook Lopez (20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists) and Thaddeus Young (19 points, 11 rebounds, three steals) once again led the Nets attack, but the bench pitched in with 39 points of their own. Shane Larkin scored 17 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic netted 14 (4-of-5 3-point shooting). Derrick Williams led the Knicks with a season-high 31 points (11-for-17 FGs). Robin Lopez scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his second crosstown rivalry game against his brother Brook.
Carmelo Anthony, subject of a few trade rumors this week, is on pace for a career-low shooting percentage at 42.6, and his 21.4 points per game would be his lowest average since he averaged 20.8 PPG in his 2004-05 season with Denver.
The Nets have won six of their last seven games against the Knicks, and a win tonight would even the all-time regular season series with the Knicks at 91-91. The Nets have also won their first game after the All-Star Break in four straight seasons (three in Brooklyn).
Since moving to Brooklyn, the Nets’ post-All Star break winning percentage (.611) has been night and day compared to their pre-break record (.429). Last year’s 17-13 post-break record propelled them to the playoffs for the third straight year.
Milestone watch: Brook Lopez needs to score 14 points to move past Richard Jefferson into third place on the Nets’ all-time scoring list, and play just 18 minutes to move past Chris Morris into fifth place on the Nets’ all-time minutes played list.