Coming into the season, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets were being hyped up as one of the best rivalries in the NBA. After thrilling games last season and playoff appearances for both teams, it made sense. Instead, tonight was another disappointing game in the Battle of the Boroughs, as the Knicks blew the Nets out.
This season, the rivalry between the Knicks and Nets was underwhelming, punctuated by the game tonight. When the schedule was released for this season, tonight’s game was circled by many as a potential Atlantic Division deciding game. Instead, both teams were playing for virtually nothing.
The Knicks had already been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Nets had only the fifth seed to play for. Losing may have been the best option for the Nets, as the loss moves them closer to the sixth seed, and avoiding the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Seeing the Knicks and Nets playing on the schedule will grab people’s attention, but tonight was a far cry from what people expected. Both teams rested plenty of players, as Carmelo Anthony sat with a torn labrum for the Knicks, and Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson and Mirza Teletovic all sat with various injuries for the Nets. Various veterans who did suit up did not play their regular allotment of minutes, as the game was more reminiscent of a preseason match up than a regular season meeting.
Tonight also culminated what was a lousy season series between the two teams. All four meetings this season were blowouts, with the closest game being tonight’s 11-point victory for the Knicks. The Knicks took the season series 3-1, winning the other two games by 30 and 29 points, while the Nets lone victory came by 23.
Some players did prove their worth tonight in a game that was rough on the eyes, as Cole Aldrich proved once again for the Knicks he is a player worth keeping around next season. Tonight he had a season-high 13 rebounds to go with 13 points, as he looks like a viable option as the backup center next season for the cash-strapped Knicks.
For the Nets, Mason Plumlee showed he could be a worthwhile piece to help in the playoffs up front. With Kevin Garnett playing so little this season, Plumlee has really come on as of late. Tonight he scored 16 points with nine rebounds, giving the Nets an active big man to compete with the talented front lines of potential first-round opponents in the Bulls or Toronto Raptors.
Overall, tonight, like the season for the Knicks and series against each other, was underwhelming and pretty disappointing. There is no real rivalry here, as the matchup between the Knicks and Nets seems to be more media driven than anything, at least for this season. Rivalries are made on the court, not in newspapers, and this one for the Battle of the Boroughs has a long way to go before it lives up to the expectations placed upon it by media members and fans alike.