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Nets go for 3 straight vs Knicks

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"I'm feelin' myself, feelin' myself."
"I'm feelin' myself, feelin' myself."
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

There are two ways to look at Brooklyn's recent game. The first is that their win on the road in Toronto was incredibly impressive. The other is that the Nets are one win away from matching their entire win total from the month of January. Either way, things appear to be looking up for the Nets. This is the first night of a back-to-back and also the last home game before the All Star break. After this, the Nets begin their season long eight game road trip in Washington D.C. against the Wizards.

Making the trip into Brooklyn will be the New York Knicks. They haven't played since they lost to the Boston Celtics at the Garden on Tuesday night. They're nowhere near playoff contention and all eyes will be on them once the lottery approaches. Focusing back on the immediate present, this is the first night of a back-to-back. The Golden State Warriors will be waiting for them in MSG on Saturday night.

Where to follow the game

Double coverage tonight. on TV, YES Network and MSG Network have you covered. On the radio, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and WFAN 101.9 FM have the call. Tip off is set for after 7:00 PM.

Injuries

Nothing here for the Nets.

For the Knicks, Amar'e Stoudemire and Cole Aldrich are questionable. Also, Andrea Bargnani is injured again. Shocking I know.

The game

What's the story with New York basketball? Let's get into it:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn New York

Record

20-28 10-39

Pace

94.32 92.79

Offensive Efficiency

100.3 99.2

Defensive Efficiency

104.4 107.6

Turnover Rate

14.9 15.5

Assist Rate

16.3 17.1

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.9 25.3

Rebounding Rate

48.7 48.2

Free Throw Rate

26.9 21.2

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.8 48.5

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.4 51.5

The Nets won the first meeting in November and the second one in December.

Nothing new on the trade front for the Nets at the moment. As for the Knicks, they might be looking to move Pablo Prigioni. The deadline's two weeks away.

The Knicks are a bit different from the last time they played Brooklyn. They traded Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to Cleveland and let Samuel Dalembert go. In (eventually) came Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson It looked as if they were on pace for one of the worst seasons in league history, but they've turned it around some recently. Over at Posting and Toasting, Joe Flynn notes one improvement for the team:

Obviously the biggest improvement has been on the defensive end. While that probably has a great deal to do with the quality of competition, the Knicks are certainly defending better. Their defensive rotations in particular have looked timely and crisp, leaving fewer open shooters behind the arc.

When they came back from London in mid-January, the Knicks were allowing opponents to shoot an unfathomable 40.1% from three. In the last seven games that number has dropped to an exquisite 30.7%.

Slowly but surely, Bojan Bogdanovic is starting to put it all together. The minutes still aren't consistent, but he's making due with what he's been given. Bojan does give the Nets another option from three point range and as he continues to adjust to the NBA, he should be able to help push the Nets into the playoffs.

Speaking of adjusting, Deron Williams is continuing to adjust to his new role. Even before he went out with his latest injury, Williams was backing up Jarrett Jack. That will continue here and the point guard duo will be guarding Jose Calderon. Calderon is one of the few recognizable faces on the New York roster and has been playing well recently. He's always done a good job of setting his teammates up in his ten (!) year career, but with the lack of scoring options on the team, his assist numbers are down.

Player to watch: Carmelo Anthony

Melo has a knee injury that will eventually require surgery, but has soldiered through it. All signs point to him missing the rest of the season after he takes part in the All Star festivities next weekend, but for now, the Knicks will still have their best player on the court. He's still fifth in the Association in scoring, but his shooting numbers are down. He's still a great scorer in the post and around the rim, but he's having his worst season from downtown since 2009-2010. He isn't turning the ball over much, which is incredibly impressive when you consider how much the Knicks rely on Melo to get offense.

On the other side is Joe Johnson. Like Melo, Johnson has been dealing with injuries this season. Johnson has been bothered by knee and ankle injuries since the middle of December, but has played through them. After a prolonged slump in January, he's started to turn things around. He's shooting 58 percent from the field in his last four games and has been a key part of the improved ball movement in the Nets offense. Defending Melo is always a difficult task, so Lionel Hollins should throw some doubles Anthony's way in order to slow him down. The Nets are hoping for a blowout so they can get Johnson a little extra rest for the second part of the back-to-back.

From the Vault

We're right around the corner from the All Star Game. The last time the game was held in NYC was 1998. Let's head on back and catch some of the action.

More reading: Posting and Toasting