When: 3 p.m. EST
Where: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network
The Brooklyn Nets battle, no matter the competition. Aside from the blowout loss to the Detroit Pistons (we won’t talk about that game any further), every game the Nets have played in 2018 has been an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Since the turn of the new year, the Nets have gone 3-4. Their most recent game was an overtime loss to the Washington Wizards. The Nets were down by over 20 points in the game, but again, they did not quit. They forced overtime, but were unable to secure a victory against John Wall and Bradley Beal. Brooklyn lost, 119-113. They now stand at 16-27 on the season.
Brooklyn will play an MLK day matinee against the New York Knicks – and try to avoid heartbreak. The Nets have lost their first two matchups against the Knicks, their most one a 111-104 loss. In that game, Courtney Lee scored a season-high 27 points against the Nets. The Knicks won despite Kristaps Porzingis leaving early in the game. With a win on Monday and a win on their final matchup on Jan. 30, the Nets can split the season series against their crosstown foes.
Here are three things to watch prior to Monday’s Nets-Knicks matchup!
The Fatigue Factor
The Nets are coming off of a back-to-back set against the Hawks and Wizards. They had Sunday off, but return home to Barclays for this matchup. For the Knicks, this game will be the back half of a back-to-back set. The circumstances of this game make things even more difficult for New York. The Knicks are coming off of an overtime game against the New Orleans Pelicans, a 123-118 loss. Anthony Davis scored 48 points to lead New Orleans to victory at Madison Square Garden. Porzingis and Enes Kanter played 43 and 36 minutes respectively in the game.
While travel may not be an issue for either team, the Nets have to take advantage of potentially weak legs, especially on the Knicks’ front line. Kanter and Porzingis spent most of Sunday defending DeMarcus Cousins and Davis. While the Nets’ front line may not be a great matchup to the Knicks’ size, they can at least limit New York’s scoring. Brooklyn has to capitalize on the tired legs of New York’s best players.
While much of the fanfare around the Nets’ fighting spirit has been centered around Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert has really found his groove. Coming off the bench, LeVert has become the catalyst for one of the highest scoring benches in the NBA. Along with his quick-scoring first step, LeVert has dished out more than five assists in 16 games this season. Against the Wizards, LeVert dished out eight assists, and played extended minutes in the overtime contest.
Against the Knicks, Caris will look to create again. His connection with Jarrett Allen has definitely been special. In addition, LeVert simply keeps things moving when the offense gets stagnant. With D’Angelo Russell’s impending (fingers crossed) return, LeVert has earned more minutes, creating a possible three-man logjam for the Nets’ point guard spot.
I will now use this space to wax poetic about Michael Beasley. The former No. 2 overall pick can flat-out score. When given minutes and touches, Beasley is deadly, with creativity around the basket and a soft touch around the perimeter. While the return of Tim Hardaway Jr. for the Knicks has somewhat cut into his minutes, Beasley deserves credit for keeping the Knicks afloat in many games as of late.
With Kanter and Porzingis possibly not at 100 percent, Beasley could play a major role for the Knicks against Brooklyn. He played only nine minutes in Sunday’s loss, not scoring. But if Beasley is needed, he could wreak havoc on the Nets’ bench, and possibly on the Nets’ starters. It’s been a resurgent year for the nine-year pro, so Brooklyn will have to take matchups against him seriously.