Brooklyn Nets (11-15) vs. New York Knicks (14-13)
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports GO
Listen: WFAN 101.9, 660 AM
The Brooklyn Nets’ last victory against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night was a close one. It was a microcosm of this Nets season – brilliant flashes mixed with sloppy play. Despite the team’s poor shooting from beyond the arc (10-43 for 23.3 percent), the Nets held onto their lead to come out victorious, 103-98. A team effort shut down the Wizards’ offense, missing John Wall. An ice-cold Allen Crabbe sank a three when his team needed it, giving the Nets the lead. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson secured the Nets’ win with a crucial offensive rebound late.
Against the Wizards, seven Nets finished in double figures. Two players (Spencer Dinwiddie and Hollis-Jefferson) notched double-doubles. While the Wizards may not be at full strength, the Nets won an exciting game back at home after their Mexico City trip.
Thursday night, the Nets play their second straight (actual) home game against the rival Knicks. New York is playing .500 ball at 14-13 on the year. The team is coming off an overtime victory against the Los Angeles Lakers (sorry, Brook) on Tuesday night.
Here are three things to look for in the second Knicks-Nets matchup of the season…
The Nets’ first game against the Knicks this season was an ugly loss. The team lost at Madison Square Garden, 106-87. Brooklyn committed 16 turnovers and allowed the Knicks to grab 19 offensive rebounds. As a comparison, the Nets grabbed four offensive boards the whole game – Kyle O’Quinn had five offensive boards by himself. Surely, the energy was lacking for the entire Nets squad that game.
In the Nets’ most recent wins, they’ve responded well to adversity – and brought the energy. Against the Wizards, the Nets struggled in the first half securing rebounds. Washington had many second and third chance attempts on offense, keeping the lead slim. Brooklyn responded in the second half, clamping down after misses and taking control of the boards. Against a Knicks squad with several big bodies (Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, O’Quinn, Michael Beasley), Brooklyn needs to win the rebounding battle on the defensive end.
Bounce back games?
Despite his double-double, Dinwiddie had a subpar shooting game against Washington. The Nets point guard shot a troubling 1-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc on Tuesday. At times, it looked like Dinwiddie was settling for jumpers rather than attacking the paint. The Nets could have taken a bigger lead at some junctures, but Dinwiddie struggled from the field. While he did dish out 12 assists, Dinwiddie should look to capitalize on the Knicks’ starting guard and familiar face Jarrett Jack.
When it comes to Crabbe, his biggest shot came when the Nets most needed him. He sank a three-pointer to give the Nets a two-point lead with 44 seconds left in the game. It salvaged a 3-of-15 shooting (and 3-of-14 from deep) game from Crabbe. After the game, Crabbe told YES Network’s Michael Grady “shooters shoot.” Despite the poor game, Crabbe rose to the occasion. Can he carry over his late game heroics to Thursday’s game against the Knicks?
This should be a game preview point every game against the Knicks. Porzingis is good. Really good. On Tuesday against the Lakers, Porzingis scored 37 points, sank five threes, grabbed 11 rebounds AND blocked five shots. Yeah, it was one of those games. There was also some stuff with Porzingis and Instagram model Jen Selter post-game as well. It was a good night for the Knick. It’s been a great season in totality for the third-year big, who has become a man that can do no wrong for the Knicks – and for the city of New York in general.
Hollis-Jefferson will have the unfortunate task of guarding the Knicks’ unicorn. While he may be able to match up with Porzingis speed-wise, there’s an eight-inch height difference between the two. That’s important. Brooklyn will need a team effort to contain the Knicks’ superstar. Against a big front line, the Nets could deploy Jahlil Okafor for the first time. While Okafor (and Nik Stauskas) are being brought along slowly by the Nets, the team could need an interior presence this game. It was only two years ago that Okafor was taken one spot ahead of Porzingis, and the two have gone on different paths in their careers. Their paths may collide again Thursday night.
Pregame coverage starts at 7 p.m. on YES Network. Be sure to follow @TheBKGame on Twitter for live coverage of the game!