Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets @ New York Knicks

Lots of shots have been fired back & forth between these two teams. A short, incomplete list: Mikhail Prokhorov & Jay-Z on the “Blueprint for Greatness,” Amare Stoudemire on the “You, Us, We, Now,” Prokhorov’s response to that advertisment (“he looks very sad. He looks like he wants to play in Brooklyn”), and most recently, an ad run on MSG radio with this quote:

“Hey Nets: you can walk like us, you can talk like us, but you ain’t never gonna be like us.  Knicks, Nets, Tuesday, 7:30, MSG.”

Mikhail Prokhorov & Brett Yormark both had quick, witty responses to the ad. Yormark mentioned that “The Knicks seem to be spending a lot of time thinking about us lately. They must have seen the steel rise at the Barclays Center,” while Mikhail Prokhorov’s response was short, sweet, and stinging: “I don’t think we want to be like the Knicks. I think we’d more like to resemble the Lakers.”

While it seems like the Nets have the upper hand off the court, the Knicks currently sport a better record and are playing at home. This will be a tough but fun match-up in what’s becoming a fierce rivalry in the press.

On that note, here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s game.

The battle down low. The Knicks lack bangers in their frontcourt, and while Brook Lopez has been floating away from the rim all three of the Nets’ power forwards make much of their living inside. Amare Stoudemire & Danilo Gallinari are also not defensive wizards, so there should be a number of opportunities for the Nets to get easy buckets inside.

Bring it, bench! The bench has averaged 27 points per game in the six wins the Nets have had this season. The Nets are able to win games because they have a deep team with skills that complement one another; if the bench isn’t producing, any game becomes difficult to win. Wilson Chandler & Toney Douglas lead a relatively strong Knicks bench, and hopefully the Nets can counter adequately.

Do not panic. This goes for those of us watching as well as those guys on the court. This is becoming a rivalry, but rivalries are won by the team (& the fans) who can hold it together better. Just because this is the Knicks doesn’t make it any different of a basketball game; the rules are the same, the baskets are the same height, and the refs will still make questionable calls. If the Nets can keep level heads in the Garden and not force bad decisions, I think we’ll see a victory tonight.

*Edit: One more big thing to watch out for is the battle to control the pace. The Knicks play the second-fastest pace in the NBA at 96.7 possessions per game, while the Nets are on the opposite side of the spectrum: at just over 88 possessions per game, they’re dead last. I’m firmly on the side that the Nets should run more, but against a team like the Knicks, it may be smarter to disrupt their speed and play more within a half-court offense as much as possible. Whichever side does a better job of controlling the pace may very well end up with the W.

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