Knicks vs. Nets – Madison Square Garden
When: Monday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: For the first time in 10 home games, the Knicks felt the sting of a defeat at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Carmelo Anthony has missed the last two games due to ankle injury and Rasheed Wallace has not played since the Lakers game last Thursday. At Tuesday’s practice session, Anthony ran for the first time in four days but he is still considered a game decision for the contest against Brooklyn. Amar’e Stoudemire participated in a practice and scrimmage with the D-League affiliate, Erie Bayhawks on Tuesday, providing some hope that he will join the team in the near future. The big man has missed the entire regular season with a knee injury. There is no specific timetable for his return as the Knicks have three more games left in the homestand.
Brooklyn: Brook Lopez returned from a 7-game absence on Friday night and helped the Nets top the Pistons in overtime. Brooklyn sorely missed its franchise center, considering the squad was 2-5 without Lopez in the lineup. Interesting enough, the Nets are just 1-2 since Lopez jumped back on to the floor after consecutive defeats to Chicago and Utah. Brooklyn will face three straight games against Atlantic Division foes starting with the rubber match at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday evening.
Last Time Out
New York: Chris Copeland scored a career-high 29 points but the Knicks were dropped 109-96 on Monday night at MSG.
Brooklyn: A Reggie Evans putback attempt just fell short as the Nets suffered a 92-90 loss to the Jazz last night.
The Numbers Game
The rebounding numbers have been remarkably close in the two previous meetings between the teams. Brooklyn holds a slight 87-85 edge on the glass.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Backcourt vs. Nets Backcourt
Over the last three games, the Knicks’ guards have faced some spectacular individuals in the backcourt including Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. New York relies on team defense but the responsibility has mostly dropped on Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. Bryant scored 31 points, Irving posted a career-high 41, and Harden registered 28 in a Rockets win on Monday night. The Knicks backcourt crew will attempt to slow down Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in their first trip to MSG this season. Johnson is shooting close to 50 percent of over his last five outings and he is averaging 20.8 points per game. Meanwhile, Williams averages a team-high 8.3 assists per game. Johnson is a pure scorer with a smooth jumper on the perimeter and Williams is one of the best playmakers in the league. Williams’ has not necessarily produced the type of numbers most fans expect but he is a primary defensive concern for the Knicks regardless of his recent output.
What to Look For
It’s hard to imagine a team featuring Williams, Johnson, and Lopez struggling to produce offense. This year’s Nets squad is only averaging 95.9 points per game. Brooklyn plays at a slow pace and will most likely search for scoring opportunities in half court sets. This was especially evident in last night’s game where the Nets managed just four points in the open floor. On the opposite side, New York will enter new territory as the team has never lost consecutive games at the Garden this year. After falling to Houston on Monday night, the Knicks will be extra motivated to knock off their rivals from Brooklyn. The availability of Anthony will obviously play a gigantic role in this matchup, considering he has a combined 80 points in the two meetings against the Nets this year.