Through three quarters of action, Saturday night’s Brooklyn Nets–Indiana Pacers matchup felt like everything it was in reality. An early November regular season game that no one will remember by New Year’s Day.
Then Kevin Garnett opened the fourth quarter by smashing a missed Shaun Livingston jumper through the rim with his right hand. Suddenly the atmosphere in the Barclay’s Center dramatically transformed and never reverted to its prior state. It was at that moment that everyone watching, whether it was from the stands or the living room couch realized that this marked the unofficial birth of the NBA’s next great rivalry.
You could see how badly Indiana wanted to take down Brooklyn’s super-team. You could see how much Brooklyn wanted to establish superiority over the most cohesive, successful team in the league. From that point on, you could’ve sworn these teams were playing as though they were fighting for their playoff lives.
Both sides put on quite the show in the final period. Paul George and Lance Stephenson dropped jaws all around with a few acrobatic shots. Paul Pierce kept the Nets alive with a three pointer that nearly hit the ceiling after first contact with the rim but miraculously managed to find the bottom of the net. Brook Lopez awoke in a big way with 10 fourth quarter points. And Joe Johnson fell just short of tying the game with a great three-point look in the final seconds.
The conclusion would be a hard-fought 96-91 victory for the Pacers, extending their shocking regular season outset to 7-0, while the heartbroken Nets found themselves dropping to 2-4, a scenario they only envisioned entering the season in pesky nightmares.
But while the Pacers will eventually be reminded of the bitter taste that is defeat, and the Nets will right their ship as their chemistry improves over time, there’s one thing that won’t change about these teams anytime soon.They have just provided us with another grand rivalry to sit back and enjoy.
Mike B. Ruiz is a Brooklyn Nets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikebruiz and “Like” him on Facebook.