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Can Nets start a winning streak at the Garden?

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

Hey! A win!! Against a really good Raptors squad! The team with the best record in the NBA!

Sure it took overtime and some more nail-biting but man, coming out on the W side of things is just so, so much better. Maybe this is a little momentum swinger, a little kick in the pants to get these guys going. Normally I’d say a back-to-back for this Nets team is probably a schedule loss, but they’re basically home the whole time (last night in Barclays, tonight in MSG) so a couple wins in a row might not be totally out of the question! Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but come on! I’m excited, the streak is over!

Saturdays opponent, the Knicks, are 8-18 and find themselves in a similar situation to the Nets. Without their star player, they’re just kind of a bunch of spare parts trying to figure out who’s good and who’s gone by February.

They are also, similarly, planning on making a run at some big free agents. KD specifically, as everyone in the basketball world is quite aware of at this point. This also might be a match-up of two teams with pretty similar lottery odds when it comes time to see who will be taking Zion and who will be taking Not Zion. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30 pm, ET. And again, if you prefer an inferior product, the game will also be on MSG.

Injuries

Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out. We’re hearing Graham may be close but the Nets don’t provide timelines ... as you know.

Kristaps Porzingis (knee) Trey Burke (knee) and Lance Thomas (knee) are all out. Lots of knee issues going on across the river.

The Game

The Knicks are like, almost fun. I know that’s a controversial opinion on this website, but there are worse teams to watch than Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh running around and playing hard. Plus that Hezonja dunk! Fun! I won’t begrudge anyone a big slam and some showboating, even if it was his only bucket of the game and he’s been pretty bad all season and Giannis could eat him for breakfast and still be a little hungry afterwards.

The Knicks struggle significantly offensively, with their leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr. shooting 39.7 percent from the field on almost 18 attempts per game. Sure he’s just one guy, but the whole team is shooting 43.6 percent which is good for 28th in the league. The Nets aren’t much better, shooting 44 percent at 26th in the league, but something about not relying on a guy like Hardaway seems more stable to me. I just generally don’t trust high volume shot-takers who sometimes have it and most of the time don’t.

D’Angelo Russell, by the way, might be one of those guys. Would it be great if he was more consistent? For sure. But man do the Nets need his high output games sometimes. He put up 29, five and five in the win against the Raptors and looked like the best version of himself.

The turnover the end of overtime was not ideal, but when you play a game like that leading up to it, those mistakes and mishaps are much easier to excuse ... and forget. Also Ed Davis played 20 minutes, grabbed 15 rebounds and had one point but was still +11 for the game. That is a hilarious stat line and I love him.

The Knicks lead the league in unassisted field goals which makes sense considering their offense relies so heavily on guys like Hardaway, Emmanuel Mudiay and Allonzo Trier. Fizdale is a solid coach, but there isn’t too much of a comprehensive offensive system in place over there yet. Big picture things like that take time, just ask Kenny Atkinson.

There also isn’t a true facilitator on the roster, with Hardaway and Burke tied for the team lead with 3.0 assists per game (not a typo!), and “Point Guard” Frank Ntilikina in limbo. He’s been kept out of the three straight games. I put point guard in quotations because it’s pretty clear this kid is either going to end up a wing or playing back in his native France ... or China. He can guard almost anyone on the floor, but on offense he’s a 0. I hope he learns to shoot. Or finish at the rim. Or like, dribble or pass or something. He’s got a ton of raw talent but if it doesn’t come together he’s going to look great in a Beijing Ducks uniform.

The Nets have an opportunity to break a streak with a win tonight. They haven’t win the road portion of a back-to-back in their last 33 attempts, which they have not done since December 21, 2015, when Billy King was GM and Lionel Hollins the head coach.

Player To Watch

Noah Vonleh seems to be figuring it out in New York after bouncing around a bit in his first few years in the league. He’s shooting well, 51% from the field and a superb 46% from three on 1.7 attempts per game. He plays hard, is athletic, and a free agent at the end of the season. In fact, he won’t even be fully guaranteed until January. Vonleh may be another guy whose name is on a whiteboard somewhere in the depths of the HHS Training Facility and I don’t mind it one bit.

From The Vault

This video is amazing. Paul Pierce. Andrei Kirilenko. Tyson Chandler. Andray Blatche. Mason Plumlee. Amare Stoudemire. The Golden Age of New York basketball well other than the 70’s when the Nets and Knicks won four NBA and ABA titles between 1970 and 1976. Have nice weekends everyone. We’re halfway there!

Enjoy.

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