Opponent: New York Knicks
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Madison Square Garden
Watch: YES Network, Fox Sports GO
Listen: 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The Brooklyn Nets will look to even the season series as they travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks. Brooklyn, once again, this season was unable to win consecutive games, a streak they’ve held all season. After defeating the Knicks 120-112 on Biggie Night, the Nets, much like most teams in the NBA, struggled to defend Russell Westbrook and fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 18 points. Both Joe Harris (concussion, shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (strained hamstring) will be out tonight, this leaves the Nets very slim at small forward, look for K.J. McDaniels to soak up some serious minutes behind starter Caris LeVert.
There were both offensive and defensive issues that plagued Brooklyn in their matchup with OKC — for one they turned the ball over way too much, accumulating a total of 18 turnovers for the game. On defense, there was no containing Westbrook who picked up his 33rd triple-double of the season and finished with an outrageous line of 25 points, 19 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Nets bench also could not contain Enes Kanter, who exploited smaller lineups finishing with 17 points and 2 blocks. Jeremy Lin scored a season-high 24 points while adding 5 assists and 2 boards, Brook Lopez also scored 25 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
Tonight, containing Carmelo Anthony’s ability to score will be key; the veteran has torched the Nets so far this season averaging 21.3 points in the 3 games these teams have played so far. The Knicks had one of their stronger defensive performances of the season on Tuesday and the Pacers were limited to only 81 points on 36.8% shooting.
The Knicks’ prodigy Kristaps Porzingis will miss this game with a thigh contusion.
3 Things to Watch For in Nets-Knicks:
1. Caris LeVert
The rookie starting small forward is always someone to watch for the Nets as the season winds down. Whether it’s his natural athleticism, length, speed, or ability to knock down shots, LeVert has shown vast improvement in his short time in the league. Even head coach Kenny Atkinson has noticed:
“Biggest pleasant surprise, it’s got to be Caris LeVert. Young as he is, a rookie, after the All-Star Break, we said, we got to start this kid.”
2, Nets/Knicks History
There’s just something about Nets vs Knicks that’s exciting, even in a season like this. Sure, more often than not, both teams are closer to the lottery than the playoffs, but the inner-rivalry edge is ever-present. These teams have played a total of 186 regular season games, with the Knicks leading with 94 wins to the Nets’ 92. With a chance to tie to season series, can the Nets finally put together a worthy back-to-back effort?
3. First Night of a Back-to-Back
We all know that the Nets’ management tends to keep it safe and rest certain players but with the Boston Celtics in town tomorrow, will that change Atkinson’s rotation? Even without Isaiah Thomas, this Knicks game is the far more winnable matchup in tow, so we expect Atkinson to play the full rotation tonight and deal with the results tomorrow at home.