Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks, The Virtual Series: Preview

Nets vs. Knicks: Battle of the Borough Beards.

The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks missed out on a playoff series, so we’re going to do our own, with myself and Jared Dubin as coaches for our respective teams. Before Game 1 tips off tomorrow, Jared & I chat a bit about our upcoming series.

Let me start with this: Jared, you’ve been a critic of Knicks coach Mike Woodson in the past. Now you’ve finally got the chance to run the New York Knicks, in the playoff series all of New York is waiting for. What will you do differently? (Note: your answer to this can most definitely be “f— you, I’m not tipping my hand.”)

Jared: F— you, I’m not tipping my hand.


But seriously, I will make sure the Knicks play small-ball, preferably with two point guards on the floor and with Carmelo Anthony at power forward. Subsequently, my rotation is getting some major tweakage. Pablo Prigioni will see an increase in minutes, as will Chris Copeland. It’s gonna be ¡Pablocura! all day, baby. JR Smith will see fewer minutes, as will Tyson Chandler, but for entirely different reasons. Namely, I want Tyson to stay fresh and healthy, and I just don’t want JR playing 36 minutes and taking 942 shots a game. I wish there was a way to set the rotation minutes to “If JR misses more than 2 of his first 4 shots, he doesn’t play the rest of the game.” But alas. Oh, and Jason Kidd and Amar’e Stoudemire will share 14 total minutes rather than each getting close to that amount individually.

We’ll double team the post less, play a little bit more zone to cover up some defensive deficiencies, and leak out in transition slightly more often. Even though the Pacers destroyed the Knicks on the boards in Round 2, the actuality is the Knicks were a top defensive rebounding team for most of this season. If the price of getting a few easy transition buckets is a rebound or two per game, I’ll pay it. I’m also putting Pablo on Deron, Shump on Joe, and hiding Felton on Gerald Wallace. Cross-match city.

Offensively, we’re going back to what made the Knicks good in the regular season. Raining 3s, not taking mid-range shots, running actual plays and only isolating Carmelo when he has a clear mismatch or when the shot clock is running down. Ya know, basketball.

How are your Nets different from P.J.’s, or Avery’s?

Devin: Well firstly, I’m hoping the team will run plays in the third quarter. No, seriously. The “run plays” slider is going way up.

As for on the court stuff, the biggest change and one I’m willing to admit right off the bat is that I’m countering your small ball with big ball and putting #DrayDay AKA Andray Blatche in the starting lineup next to Lopez. Yes, yes, I know, small ball is usually better than big ball and there’s no way Blatche can guard Carmelo Anthony, but we’re pounding the ball inside with a real offensive option as opposed to Reggie Evans at the 4. The most hilarious part is that I’m pretty sure the best matchup for Blatche is on Pablo/Kidd in those lineups, and holy crap I can’t stop laughing. In the same vein, I imagine we’re going to run a bit more zone than you, at least with that lineup in.

Of course, if that crashes and burns in Game 1 I’ll probably go small like you, with either my favorite actual Nets lineup (DWill-Bogans-Joe-Gerald-Lopez) or 2-PG with Watson as a “shooting guard.” Basically we’re either going big ball or small ball.

“Devin’s Brooklyn Nets: Because regular ball is stupid.”

I still haven’t figured out exactly how to handle the backend rotation minutes yet. Reggie will definitely get quality minutes at PF. Humphries will probably handle small backup C duties, assuming that Humphries isn’t still reeling from his divorce from pixellated Kim Kardashian.

Other than that, relatively similar — we’re going to rain threes, particularly with our second unit, fine Joe Johnson $250,000 every time he takes a midrange jumper, and try to force Chandler into foul trouble with post-ups for Brook and drives to the basket.

My next question: what worries you about this matchup, and what excites you?

Jared: Well, I’m super excited that the coach of the Knicks is named “Jared Dubin.” That’s pretty cool.

I’m extremely excited for you to guard Carmelo with Andray Blatche or Reggie Evans, if that ever happens. I know Melo doesn’t have the world’s best numbers against Evans, but I’ll take that match-up any day of the week. And for Shump to throw his grinders on Iso Joe. Have fun, Joe. Good luck. I’m also excited to ignore Gerald Wallace on the perimeter, ignore Reggie Evans everywhere, and beg Kris Humphries to take jumpers. That should be fun.

I’m a little worried about Deron bullying Pablo in the post, because I like Pablo and I don’t want to see him get bullied. Bullies are bad. #StopBullying. Brook pulling Tyson too far away from the rim is another concern, but Video Game Tyson doesn’t have a hurt neck, so he can cover and recover much better than 2nd Round Against the Pacers Tyson.

Do players have mood swings in this game? If they do, I’m worried about JR and Amar’e being unhappy about the minutes I’m giving them. Otherwise, I don’t have many concerns, because I know Jared Dubin can coach circles around Devin Kharpertian.

I’m assuming you have nothing exciting and many, many worries. What are they?

Devin: All I know is the Knicks will keep running in circles once the Nets realize how to best utilize their offense under legendary 2K13 coach Devin Kharpertian.

But seriously, I’m very excited to see Wallace shut down Carmelo Anthony. (And ignore Wallace all you want — he can still hit a corner 3 and looked like a competent human being in the first round of the playoffs.) I’m excited to play more unorthodox lineups in one series than P.J. & Avery did all season. I’m excited to watch Deron Williams tear Raymond Felton to shreds so viciously that Felton will never see the number 8 again without imagining it flying past him. I’m excited to turn Joe Johnson into spot-up and post-up Joe (seriously, enjoy trying to stop Deron AND Joe with a 2-PG lineup) and Brook Lopez into Tyson kryptonite.

I’m worried about — what else? — the defense. Lopez & Blatche is a recipe for disaster inside and Chandler can pick-and-roll finish them to death. Wallace can play man coverage on Carmelo but if they’re surrounding him with shooters there’s going to be a lot of open looks off the help coverage. I’m also terrified that my corner shooters — Bogans, Wallace, Watson, etc. — won’t hit their shots. It’s a dangerous game to try to out-three-point the Knicks, and games at MSG in particular could get ugly fast.

In the interest of fairness, I’d like to now give you space for your closing statement AKA last words before the smackdown begins.

Jared: I don’t need a closing statement. My coaching will speak for itself. My Knicks will Shump all over your Nets in 5 games. We’re going to make you wish you never moved out of Jersey.

Devin: Come to Brooklyn, Jared. Nets in 6, with a clinching victory at Barclays Center.