The return of Deron Williams was a big deal for the Nets, but Joe Johnson has been the reason that Williams was able to sit out those five games while the Nets continued their push up the standings. They currently hold the seventh spot in the East and look ready to make up more ground.
The last time these two teams got together the Knicks showed the Nets they were still the kings of New York, but things have changed for both teams as of late. The Nets are riding a 7-1 record since the new year which is the best in the NBA while the Knicks have gone 5-6 including a five-game winning streak. Carmelo Anthony has continued his MVP campaign, but the rest of the team has to figured out that they have to show up as well in order for the team to be competitive.
Johnson has emerged as the leader of the Nets while bench players at the beginning of the season have turned into season saving starters amid an array of injuries. Shawn Livingston has done a remarkable job controlling the tempo while players like Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche have provided much needed offensive balance. The Nets have made their run with stellar defense provided by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Jason Kidd should be considered for coach of the new year as his team makes their move to the top of the standings. Mike Woodson is at a crossroads with the Knicks, and he can’t seem to get his players to act their age, play defense or make any baskets.
One New York team is rising while the other is falling. The Nets are showing the rest of the league that they are a legitimate team while the Knicks are showing they are still a one man show.