Nets host the Knicks before ending the season

Marc Serota

We're almost there. After tonight's home finale, Brooklyn has one more game to go before they hit the road to open the playoffs. They won their last game on Sunday evening, defeating the Orlando Magic 97-88. The magic number for clinching the fifth seed is one and the Nets will find out who their first round opponent is on Wednesday evening. MUCH more on that later in the week.

Joining the Nets in closing the Barclays Center for the regular season will be the New York Knicks. Between injuries, terrible play and some touches of bad luck, the Knicks had a disappointing season and will not be in the playoffs.

For what it's worth, the Knicks lead the season series 2-1. New York won the first and most recent meetings by large margins while the Nets dominated them at Madison Square Garden on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The season so far

What happened with these teams this season? Let's check the stats:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

New York

Record

44-36 35-45

Pace

93.63 92.5

Offensive Efficiency

104.6 105.3

Defensive Efficiency

104.6 106.8

Offensive Rebounding percentage

21.8 25.1

Turnover rate

15.3 13.8

Assist rate

16.8 16.2

Rebound rate

47.1 49.1

Free throw rate

30.2 24.4

Effective Field Goal percentage

51.5 50.5

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.7 51.4

Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson are dealing with injuries right as we reach the start of the playoffs. Livingston has been dealing with a sprained right toe while Anderson suffered an abdominal strain. With the Nets playing a back-to-back, it would be wise to rest them.

With this being the first half of a back-to-back, look for the bench to play a central role in this contest. Joe Johnson hasn't gotten a day off for rest yet this month, but he'll probably get one either tonight or tomorrow in Cleveland. With that in mind, Mirza Teletovic and Marcus Thornton figure to see extended minutes. After being relegated to the bench for most of last season, Teletovic has been able to make solid contributions to the Brooklyn frontcourt and has made 39 percent of his threes. He isn't the greatest defender in the world, but plays with a lot of effort and figures to be in the playoff rotation. With Anderson hurting, Thornton's role off the bench becomes even more important. He's shot well since joining the team and can provide instant offense when he enters the game.

At the beginning of the season, I thought the Knicks would compete for the Atlantic Division crown. Obviously they didn't, but that wasn't because of Carmelo Anthony. Melo da GAWD is averaging 27.4 points and a career high eight rebounds in 38 minutes a night. I had always felt that he should limit his three point attempts because he was so mediocre from deep, but he's been pretty dependable over the past two seasons. He's shooting a career high 40 percent from deep on five attempts a night. With that consistent element to his game, he has become an even better scorer. Melo is dealing with a shoulder injury and should  be given the last two games off so he can heal.

Despite missing time due to injuries, being suspended to start the season, and getting benched for tomfoolery, J.R. Smith is still in the top ten for three pointers made this season. Smith is a player that can carry your offense when he's hot (see the game against Sacramento), but he can also take your team out of it with bad shots when he's cold (take your pick). Smith set the record for three pointers made and attempted a few weeks back against the Heat and is coming off a five three pointer game against the Bulls on Sunday. Smith always makes the game (and Twitter) exciting, so watch out.

Player to watch: Amar'e Stoudemire

The general consensus going into the season was that Amar'e wouldn't be around for long and that he'd experience another injury. While he did miss some time due to minor injuries, he has played in 63 games, his highest as a member of the Knicks. In those, he's averaging 12 points on a 59.4 true shooting percentage in only 22 minutes a night. He's not the same force that he was in Phoenix, but you can live with a player like STAT coming off your bench if you;re the Knicks.

STAT figures to see a lot of  Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee in this contest. If Kevin Garnett plays, it won't be for long. Plumlee has moved back to the bench since KG returned but has maintained his productivity. He's played close to 30 minutes in each of the last four games and figures to do so again tonight. He has room to improve on defense and Amar'e will try to take advantage of that. STAT still gets to the line at a decent rate and finishes well around the rim.

From the Vault

Prepare to be inundated with Carmelo rumors this summer. In the mean time, head back to happier times with Melo and the Knicks.


More reading: Posting and Toasting

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