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Nets go cross-river for back-to-back with Knicks

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For the fourth time in the month of October, the Nets and Knicks will battle each other, two preseason and now two regular season.

NBA: Preseason-Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, yeah, the Nets are 2-4 and are on a two-game losing streak. But they just barely lost to the top two seeds in the Western Conference at the moment. Sure they blew that Pelicans game, but they had to be winning in the first place to blow it! And there is absolutely no shame losing by six to the Warriors, especially when you were down by 19 and got it within two. None. They played hard and gave the team of the century a run for their money.

This is all to say, don’t panic. There will be moments like this during the next few seasons as the Nets look to legitimize their process with wins. They’ll come. Hard fought losses against two of the best teams in the league are nothing to freak out about. Plus, now they get to play the Knicks! Always fun trying to beat up on the crosstown rivals. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30pm ET. Since it’s a Knicks/Nets game, MSG will also carry it ... if you feel like watching an inferior product.

Injuries

DeMarre Carroll (ankle surgery) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out with no timetable for either’s return. Kurucs (ankle sprain) sat out another game Sunday and is out again for this one.

On the other bench, Kevin Knox (sprained left ankle) is sidelined for a couple of weeks. Courtney Lee has been having some neck trouble and has yet to play this season. Emmanuel Mudiay missed Friday’s game with an ankle injury. He’s probable.

Kristaps Porzingis is still recovering from his torn ACL. And as this Instagram post notes, the Unicorn is getting anxious.

View this post on Instagram

I just wanna hoop

A post shared by Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) on

The Game

The Knicks are 1-5, including five straight Ls, and so are looking to bump that up and maybe begin to crawl out of the basement of the East. The only team worse than them so far has been the Cavaliers, who just fired their head coach. David Fizdale’s job is safe, but this current iteration of the Knicks is just not designed to win a lot of ball games. Losing Kevin Knox has made that even more difficult.

So, Fizdale is going straight youth, moving Enes Kanter, Jarrett Allen’s personal nightmare, to the bench in favor of rookie, Mitchell Robinson, and replacing Lance Thomas with Noah Vonleh. Fizdale explains it by saying...

“It’s a tough juggle,” Fizdale said. “We all understand where our team is at and what we’re trying to accomplish right now. One way or another we do have to bring our puppies along.”

Kanter, in a contract year, is not particularly pleased.

“I mean, this year I think I’ve been playing at an All-Star level, so my thing is I’m trying to make the All-Star [team] this year,” said the 6’11” Turk. “I’m not worried about coming from the bench or starting or not. That’s the last thing I should be worried about. My thing is just go out and try to play like an All-Star.”

The Nets should look to attack any position Frank Ntilikina isn’t playing, even though Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell can probably put up some points on him anyway. The plan should be shoot fast and shoot often, putting up big numbers early against this Knicks team will help in the second half when the Nets legs start to go. This is still a young team on a back-to-back playing it’s third game in four days. A cushion would help.

D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert really carried the Nets offense in their last game, which is a sentence I’ll probably write down a bunch of times this year. They put up 25 and 23 points, respectively, and if they continue to click on that end of the floor they should be able to handle the Knicks quite easily.

Otherwise, some more production out of the 4 is going to be necessary going forward. Dudley is just not cutting it as a starter and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is still visibly working off the rust from his injury. Those two are going to have to figure it out soon if the Nets want to turn these close losses into wins.

One thing about the Robinson-Vonleh pairing, they can be lured into quick and not very smart fouls. Expect Ed Davis to take advantage of that. Davis knows Vonleh from their Portland days. In fact, Davis recommended Vonleh sign with New York.

A final note: The Nets and Knicks know each other quite well. They’ve played each other four times this month: twice in preseason, twice in regular season. They don’t play again until December 8.

Player To Watch

Tim Hardaway Jr. is putting up 24.3 points per game out of sheer necessity. There truly isn’t any other solid scoring options on the Knicks, especially in the backcourt or on the wing. He’s shooting decent percentages, 41 percent from the field and 37 percent from three, and it seems like the kind of situation Hardaway can thrive in. Translation: He loves to shoot.

Putting up somewhat empty stats on a bad team in New York City while making $18 million a year? Sounds like a lot of fun, honestly. Hardaway doesn’t strike me as an “All I care about is winning” type of guy, and that’s okay! Expect him to get his 20 or so shots and show little to no defensive effort against the Nets, and expect Kenny Atkinson to devise a plan to neutralize his output as best he can. Remember, they were together in Atlanta. Once the head of this offense is cut off, there’s not much left.

From The Vault

The last game between these two was a thriller, and it’ll be fun to see if Caris can replicate that career-high scoring performance. And who can forget that last-second layup? Beautiful. Enjoy!

For a different perspective, head on over to Posting and Toasting, our sister site.

Troll Alert!

Charles Oakley is still banned from the Garden after his back-and-forth in February 2017 with Knicks owner James Dolan, and Oakley’s defamation suit against Dolan is still working its way through the courts. And so on the eve of the latest Nets-Knicks battle, Brooklyn decided to honor Oak. Frank Isola picked up on the troll...

Nicely played indeed.