The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks will face off on Thursday night in a nationally televised matchup. The game was projected to be one of the better and fiercer games of the young 2013-14 NBA season. However, after the first five weeks of the season, that’s far from what this matchup is going to be, even if the whole country is still watching.
Brooklyn sits at just 5-13 on the season and are currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Slightly worse than the Nets, sitting in 14th place, are the Knicks at a paltry 3-13 on the season. Any way you slice it, these two teams have failed to deliver on preseason expectations, whether those expectations were based on offseason acquisitions or on last season’s success.
For the Nets, you can look to the fact that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett haven’t been the effective veteran leaders the team had hoped for them to be as a big reason for their struggles. However, the root cause might be a little more common and simpler; the Nets have had to deal with a number of injuries. Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Pierce and several others have already missed time for Brooklyn this year.
Lopez, who just returned to action this past Friday, could be in store for a big game against New York, though. While he’s still being limited in terms of minutes a bit, the Knicks have also been affected by injuries, the most notable being the one that has left them without Tyson Chandler over the past few weeks.
With Chandler out for the Knicks, their interior defense has been much worse. If Lopez is fully healthy, he’s shown that he has grown a great deal as an offensive center and should be able to take care of the likes of Andrea Bargnani on Thursday night. Let’s be honest, this game isn’t going to be an epic chapter in a burgeoning rivalry, but we could at least see a big night from the Nets’ talented young center.