The Knicks & Nets will try to stop embarrassing New York City basketball

Maddie Meyer

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:

Metric

Brooklyn

New York

Record

5-13 3-13

Pace

94.61 93.28

Offensive Efficiency

99.5 99

Defensive Efficiency

107.5 105.4

Offensive Rebounding percentage

24.7 25.3

Turnover rate

15.4 13.7

Assist rate

15.7 15.6

Rebound rate

48.6 48.6

Free throw rate

32.9 21.2

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.2 46.9

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

51 50.7

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

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