The last installment in the “Battle of the Boroughs” will be played tomorrow at 3pm at Madison Square Garden. The NBA schedule makers did not do this New York rivalry justice when they scheduled all four games to be played by the end of January and the last one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Let’s take a look at the season series so far.
The Brooklyn Nets won the initial meeting of the teams, November 26th, this season when they beat the Knicks in overtime 96-89 after the original game was rescheduled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Nets played well behind Deron Williams 16 points and 14 assists and Brook Lopez’s 22 point, 11 rebound performance. The key contribution of the game came from Jerry Stackhouse with his 14 points off the bench and four big 3-pointers.
The first game was a big one for the Nets and their fans as they were and still are trying to put an imprint on the city of New York and let the entire city know that they are for real and ready to compete.
Nets lead series 1-0
The New York Knicks came back to the Barclays Center on December 11th and won a with a highly contested game that was punctuated by a Jason Kidd 3-pointer with just 24 seconds remaining to give the Knicks a 100-97 win. Carmelo Anthony poured in 45 points on 15-for-24 shooting and a solid 5-for-7 from 3-point range. This game was played without the services of the Nets big man Lopez , who was out with a foot injury, though Andray Blatche stepped into his shoes and played well with 23 points while Williams didn’t shoot well (6-for-16) but still ended with 18 points and 10 assists. Neither team’s bench did much to alter the outcome so Anthony’s scoring outburst kept the Knicks in the game long enough for Kidd to hit the dagger to give the Knicks the win.
Series tied 1-1
The Knicks followed up that close win with a 100-86 win at Madison Square Garden just eight days later on December 19th. Once again the Knicks were led by Anthony who scored 31 points but this time Chandler came to play and grabbed 12 rebounds to go with his 16 points. The Knicks key contributor was JR Smith who was hot from behind the arc and hit 7-for-11 from deep to keep the Nets at bay with 19 points. The Nets shot a miserable 40 percent from the field and couldn’t throw it on the ocean. Joe Johnson paced the Nets with 17 points.
Knicks lead series 2-1
This leads us to the final game tomorrow at the MSG and a chance for the Nets even the season series and at the same time cut the Knicks lead in the division to one game. The Knicks come into the game at 25-13 and are returning from their trip to London while the Nets have run off an 10-2 stretch behind new interim coach P.J. Carlesimo and stand at 24-16.
The Knicks won the previous two meetings when the Nets were going through a horrible 3-14 month of December. The Nets have been playing much better with more energy, tempo and cohesion since the coaching change and at the same time the Knicks have had a hard time with injuries and inconsistent defense since mid-December.
The Nets are looking for some revenge and hope to take advantage of the Knicks struggles of late and grab a tie for the season series tomorrow and inch closer to the Atlantic Division lead.
Note to NBA schedule makers: Do not schedule all four inner-city divisional games between the Nets and Knicks to happen before the All-Star break in the future please. Late season rivalry games are what we NBA fans live for.