Resting Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brook Lopez versus the best team in the Eastern Conference most likely isn't going to end in a positive result. The Nets rested Hollis-Jefferson and Lopez last night against the Cavaliers and, no, it didn't end well.
Cleveland took down the Nets 107-87, getting payback after falling to the Nets in Brooklyn last week. Brooklyn rested Hollis-Jefferson and Lopez for two reasons. To give other players on the roster a chance to prove themselves and also because Brooklyn is playing four games in five nights. RHJ is also still on a minutes restriction.
Next on the Nets schedule is their crosstown rivals the New York Knicks. Brooklyn will have little time to think about their loss to the Cavs with the Knicks on the horizon. These games don't mean as much as they did a few years ago when both teams were in playoff contention, but bragging rights are still on the line especially for the fans.
Moreover, if the Nets win, they will hold an all-time win-loss advantage over the Knicks.
The Nets have lost three games in a row heading into tonight's matchup. Their opponent, the Knicks have lost three games in a row as well. The battle of the boroughs is more like the battle of the bottom, we'll see which struggling team comes out on top tonight.
Where to follow the game?
YES Network and MSG Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM.
Besides Jarrett Jack being out with a torn ACL we don't see anyone else missing this game. Brooklyn rested Hollis-Jefferson and Lopez last night so they'll most likely be fully energized and ready to go tonight.
For the Knicks, Tony Wroten is out for the season with a torn ACL, Jose Calderon is a game-time decision with a knee contusion, Lance Thomas is out with a knee injury and Kristaps Porzingis is expected to play after missing Wednesday's game with shoulder soreness.
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On December 4th, the Knicks protected home court and trounced the Nets 108-91. The next two games at Barclays Center belonged to Brooklyn, the Nets won 110-104 on January 13th and 109-98 on February 19th. The Nets lead the season series 2-1, each team has won at home leading into tonight's game.
Matchup to watch: The Lopez brothers
Usually I give only a player to watch, but this particular matchup is too exciting not to talk about. The fact that Brook and Robin Lopez are twin brothers facing off against each other in an NBA game is already awesome enough, but tonight is even more cool.
It's the Lopez brothers birthday. They turn 28 years old today. Last year, the Nets and Knicks faced off on this same date in the same arena and Brook Lopez gave himself the best birthday gift he could ask for(of course besides comic books.)
Brook delivered when it mattered the most last season and so far this season he's gotten the best of his twin. Brook is averaging 24.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks against the Knicks while Robin is averaging 8.7 points, 8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game versus Brooklyn.
Brook even faked Robin out of his shoes on this nifty move.
For both brothers winning the game is more important then the individual battle, but it's still all about bragging rights. Brook has gotten the best of Robin in the individual battle and in the win column so far this year, if the Nets win tonight, Brook will clinch bragging rights for the entirety of the offseason.
Nets X-factor: Shane Larkin
After being criticized for his "tiny hands" by Phil Jackson, Shane Larkin has played with a chip on his shoulder this entire season. Larkin was determined to prove the Knicks wrong for declining their team option to keep him on the roster.
In the game on January 13th versus the Knicks, Larkin had 17 points and 5 assists off the bench to help silence his old team. On Twitter after the game, Larkin had some fun trolling Knicks fans.
@ESPN_Gerry lmao in my feelings? I just beat my ex team n had 17. What I’m gonna be in my feelings for. cause of a goofy Knick fan? Lol nah— Shane Larkin (@ShaneLarkin_3) January 14, 2016
Larkin has had an extremely inconsistent season, but lately he has played solid basketball. Over the last five games, Larkin is averaging 12 points and 6.2 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field. Brooklyn will need Larkin to have a solid game and I'm sure Larkin will be extremely focused to try and beat his old team.
Knicks X-factor: Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams exploded for 31 points versus the Nets on January 13th. Williams kept the Knicks in the game throughout and New York could use an offensive explosion from Williams tonight.
Williams got the start that night in place of Carmelo Anthony who was out with an injury. On the season when facing Brooklyn, Williams is averaging 15 points a game and he's shooting 55 percent from the field.
With Anthony healthy again and assuming Kristaps Porzingis plays, Williams will be coming off the Knicks bench. Williams has the ability to provide a burst of energy off the bench on a nightly basis and the Knicks will need his intensity tonight.
From the vault
Jeremy Lin lit up the Garden while embarrassing Deron Williams and the Nets on February 2nd, 2012. It was the start of 'Linsanity' which took the NBA by storm for a brief period. The next time Williams and the Nets came back to MSG, Williams got his revenge.
More reading: Posting and Toasting
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks Game Notes - New York Knicks
- Nets-Knicks Preview - AP
- Knicks - Nets rivalry: from buzz of NY to disappointment - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Carmelo convinces Rambis to do the abundantly obvious - Marc Berman - New York Post
- What If Knicks And Nets Rosters Were Combined? - Steve Lichtenstein - CBS New York
- Knicks Guard Arron Afflalo May Just Shoot His Way Out of New York - Chris Herring - Wall Street Journal
- Carmelo Anthony volunteers to give up playing time to young Knicks - Al Iannazzone - Newsday
- Knicks, Nets limp into matchup - Andy Vasquez - The Record