It's tough to be excited for this game. At the beginning of the year, just about everybody had the Knicks and Nets as the favorites to win the Atlantic Division ... and had circled this game as a must-see. Now, who cares?
There wasn't much (still isn't) talent in the Atlantic Division and we all thought the Knicks and Nets would battle it out for the Division title. It didn't work out that way.
The Brooklyn Nets have been awful and have been dealing with a ton of injuries. And just to add to the misery, we've got coaching drama in Brooklyn, one that threatens to overwhelm what's left of the game's specialness.
Coming into the Barclays Center for this national TV game will be the New York Knicks. They've lost nine straight games and are missing Tyson Chandler, who might be coming back soon. And just like Brooklyn, they've got coaching issues to deal with. There are rumors that if MIke Woodson's team doesn't win, he's gone! Feel the excitement! Or not.
The season so far
What's the story with the New York teams? Let's check the numbers:
Offensive Rebounding percentage
Free throw rate
Effective Field Goal percentage
Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage
Still nothing. Sometimes when a team makes a shakeup in the coaching department, the players come out with an inspired effort & win one for their former coach. This was not one of those instances. The Nets got ran out of the gym against a younger, more athletic team (a familiar refrain this year) and all of the goodwill they earned from their win at Memphis was gone in an instant. Andrei Kirilenko won't be back anytime soon and there aren't any updates on Deron Williams, other than Jason Kidd saying Wednesday that there is "no plan" for his possible return, or for him to even participate in the team’s morning shootaround on Thursday. Earlier in the week, Williams was merely listed as "doubtful." Now, it seems worse.
With Chandler out, Brook Lopez should dominate on the inside. He had trouble dealing with Chandler last year and will primarily be defended by Andrea Bargnani ... and Kenyon Martin. Bargs is actually a decent post defender, but isn't on the level of Chandler. Few are.
The Knicks aren't in much better shape. Carmelo Anthony leads this offense but his shooting hasn't been at the level it was last year. He's only shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from three point range. The Knicks are also not the three-point shooting team they were last year.
Player to watch: Iman Shumpert
Carmelo is the Knicks' best player, but I'm most intrigued by Shumpert. It wasn't that long ago when Shumpert was considered one of the better up-and-coming players in the league. And it was only 6.5 months ago that Shumpert was helping the Knicks rally back against the Pacers in the Conference Semifinals. But this year the trade rumors have ramped up (even more so than last year) and it looks like he's a guarantee to be traded by February 20. His numbers are essentially the same as last season (maybe he's working his way back from secret summer knee surgery?), but he hasn't been as productive as expected. Zach Lowe seems to have an answer as to why Shump is struggling this year:
Shumpert has stalled out as a Knick. You could go entire 10-minute spans without even noticing he's on the floor, especially since he cut his delightful high flattop — probably because some member of James Dolan's band found it distasteful.
Shumpert has used 12.7 percent of New York's possessions this season. That is almost unfathomable for a perimeter player who can, you know, dribble the basketball. Over the last two seasons, only 14 guys have averaged at least 25 minutes per game while using so few of their team's possessions. Most of them are big men with zero range (DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler, Robin Lopez, the ghost of Kendrick Perkins) or catch-and-shoot types on loaded teams (Jared Dudley this season, Jason Kidd last season, Thabo Sefolosha in both).
Basically, Shumpert never gets the ball. He touches the rock just 1.4 times per minute on the floor, according to SportVu tracking data.
From the Vault
Let's go back to one of last season's defining moments, Jason Kidd's kick-out game-winner over Jerry Stackhouse. Can't take one thing away from Kidd. He will do anything to win.
Right now, these two teams aren't worth a damn, so we might be better off watching a one-on-one matchup between Kidd and Woodson's rumored replacement, Allan Houston. Set that one up David Stern!
Bottom line for Thursday night at Barclays Center: Fred Kerber who's made a career covering both teams lists his top 10 moments in the rivarly. This is unlikely to crack that list.
More reading: Posting and Toasting
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks Game Notes - New York Knicks
- Knicks-Nets Preview - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Owners Racing for Top See the Bottom Fall Out - Harvey Araton - New York Times
- Mike Woodson may be on the chopping block, but the Knicks' problems are pervasive - Dave D'Alessandro - Star-Ledger
- 'Bockers, Brooklyn tilt to own the pity - Johnette Howard - ESPN New York
- Starting Five: Biiiiig game in Brooklyn - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Kidd: No 'heat' behind Nets-Knicks - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- There's no bursting Jason Terry's bubble - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Kidd: No 'heat' behind Nets-Knicks - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Carmelo Anthony: Must beat Nets - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Woody: I don't think players are quitting - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- JVG: Knicks' problem is roster, not Woody - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Woody says there's chance J.R. may rest - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Nets trying desperately to recover from horrific start - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Carmelo Anthony: 'We are the laughingstock of the league right now' - Al Iannazzone - Newsday
- Jason Kidd ice cold on Nets assistant Lawrence Frank's demotion - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Struggling Knicks and Brooklyn Nets can't both lose - they play each other - Frank Isola - New York Daily News
- J.R. Smith says he'll play when Knicks face Nets - Peter Botte - New York Daily News
- Well, at least an NY team will win this game - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- A Knicks win in Brooklyn will quiet the noise – for a bit - George Willis - New York Post
- Why it took so long to find Paul Pierce’s hand fracture - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets rewind: Little chance to keep up with young teams - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- With Tyler back in action, Knicks facing roster decision - Marc Berman - New York Post
- Van Gundy: ‘The last thing the Knicks have is a coaching issue’ - Marc Berman - New York Post
- Jason Kidd elaborates on split with Lawrence Frank - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets coach Jason Kidd shows no pity for demoted Lawrence Frank - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Rock bottom awaits Knicks-Nets loser - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Up next: Knicks at Nets - The Record
- NBA: Now in Brooklyn, the ‘Stink’ Bowl - Steve Popper - The Record
- Part II, New York Cower Rankings: Who's The Least Bad In New York? - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Jason Kidd on Nets-Knicks rivalry: "Both Teams Stink" - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Mark Cuban happy Dallas Mavericks not 'stuck' like Brooklyn Nets - Tim MacMahon - ESPN Dallas