The Nets are coming off an upset win against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers where they were without their two top point guards. In their absence, Spencer Dinwiddie played out of his mind posting 22 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, including a dagger 3-pointer late in the game. While the Nets have been far from perfect on the defensive end, they’ve been a revelation on the offensive side, averaging a staggering 121.2 points in their first five games.
Kristaps Porzingis and the rest of the Knicks squad will need to be engaged on the defensive end to stop Brooklyn from having their way with them on that end of the floor as they did in two games of the preseason. The Nets beat the Knicks by a combined 42 points in the two outings in early October. Preseason form should be taken with a grain of salt but coach Jeff Hornacek will need to have his Knicks team switched on if they are to claim their first win of the season.
Three keys to the game
The presence of Porzingis – Porzingis struggled in his team’s loss to the Celtics on Wednesday, posting a paltry 12 points on 3 of 14 shooting from the field. His two games prior to that were outstanding as he put up over 30 points in each. The unicorn will have every chance to bounce back against the Nets, who are a team that lack any real menacing defensive talent.
Coaching – Coach Kenny Atkinson has been heralded with what he’s gotten out of his team despite their relative lack of talent. He’s instilled a motion system that rewards hard work and good shooting which has incentivized players to work hard for him. Meanwhile, Hornacek has struggled to make his mark on this Knicks team with drama surrounding Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony plaguing his tenure. This season is make or break as he looks to establish his presence on the franchise.
Who will support the Latvian sensation? The Knicks handed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. an astonishing four-year, $71 million contract in the offseason. So far in the team’s opening three games his shooting has been terrible, reading 24.3% from the field and 22.7% from the perimeter. He also has not contributed much outside of scoring, racking up only four assists and four rebounds in total to start the campaign. Hardaway is the team’s second best offensive player and needs to start acting like it to take the pressure of Porzingis.
Matchup to watch
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson vs Kristaps Porzingis – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has had a stellar start to his third season with the Nets. His defensive skills have remained near elite level and his work on the offensive end has grown exponentially. His shooting range has improved and he even has a go-to move: a patented fadeaway elbow jumper. He’ll have his hands full on the defensive side guarding Porzingis. The Hyphen may have the length and reach but will he have the energy to sustain 25-30 minutes of play on both ends of the floor?
Brooklyn Nets projected starting lineup
PG – Spencer Dinwiddie | SG – Caris LeVert | SF – DeMarre Carroll | PF – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | C – Timofey Mozgov
New York Knicks projected starting lineup
PG – Ramon Sessions | SG – Tim Hardaway Jr. | SF – Courtney Lee | PF – Kristaps Porzingis | C – Enes Kanter
Expect a bounce back game from Porzingis. With the Nets known to struggle against elite big men, the Knicks power forward is almost a sure thing to put up some big numbers. Enes Kanter put up 16 points and 19 rebounds in their loss the to Celtics and could be a nice sleeper fantasy pick.
The Nets may struggle to cover the spread as 2.5-point favorites after their surprise win over the Cavaliers. The Knicks could pull it out and may be the better bet in this situation. Despite being the underdog, give the Knicks every chance to take this one home as they look to make a statement against their city rivals.
D’Angelo Russell is questionable to return for the Nets after missing their latest win due to injury. His presence will be important in deciding who gets the win in this one. The fact he’s questionable gives the Knicks every chance to notch their first win of the season. Porzingis is poised to have a vintage game at home and carry his team to their opening victory. The Knicks will have to be active on both ends of the floor for that to happen and ensure they at least stem Brooklyn’s free-flowing offense. Look for the Knicks to reign supreme in New York.
Catch this on league pass and local sports channel providers. Tip-off is at 7:30pm at Madison Square Garden.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?