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Borough battle I: Nets welcome new look Knicks to Brooklyn

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New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

One down, 81 more to go. The Brooklyn Nets opened the new season on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center. It was a hell of a game, but Brooklyn fell one point short in overtime. After this one wraps up, they’re heading to Memphis.

The opponent tonight will be the New York Knicks. David Fizdale is entering year two of the rebuilding process, and while the road will be rocky, the fans will still be riding with the team. They began the season on Wednesday night with a close loss in San Antonio against the Spurs. They’ll be in town for the next few days before hitting the road next week.

Where to follow the game

Double coverage tonight. YES Network and MSG Network on TV. ESPN 98.7 and WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

No Kevin Durant or Wilson Chandler (suspension) tonight. Nets will beIr able to sign a replacement for Chandler on November 1. That’s a week from Thursday. As for KD, here’s what Kyrie Irving told the Brooklyn Brigade about a certain “sleeping monster” at the opening of a Nike Store in Brooklyn...

Mitchell Robinson sprained his ankle a few days ago and missed Opening Night against the Spurs. No word on his availability tonight other than questionable. Reggie Bullock is out with a back injury.

The game

The Knicks may not be good, but you're probably not gonna whoop their asses.

As I’m sure someone will remind you by the game starts, the Nets have some work to do to win the hearts and minds of NYC basketball fans. Kyrie Irving knows the task ahead of him, and is working to bridge the gap:

“Brooklyn is a place where they’ve built up everything around here, different residents are here now, it’s just a whole different culture. But the same people that have supported New York basketball are still here and they support the Brooklyn Nets now. It’s just a respect thing: if you can play, they’ll respect you. If you play hard every single night, they’ll respect you — no matter if you’re in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Harlem — it doesn’t matter. All they want to see is a show.”

The best way to win people over is to win, so the Nets know what they need to do. Next to winning, there’s trash-talking. Enter Spencer Dinwiddie talking about Knick fans.

“It’s hard to get a bead on them sometimes. I’m not an expert psychiatrist. If you’re in the mind of a Knicks fan it seems easy...but to truly understand the labyrinth that it is is a much more complicated process that I don’t have the time nor energy to devote.”

They love him at 33rd and 8th.

The good thing about the Knicks roster is they have a lot of size up front. Julius Randle is a borderline All Star that has a good handle and is a bully around the rim. He had a great debut, but couldn’t bring the win home in the fourth due to cramping. With Robinson less than 100 percent, the Knicks will lean on Bobby Portis to handle interior duties.

Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan will man the fort for Brooklyn. The duo had their hands full dealing with Karl Anthony Towns on Wednesday night as KAT dominated the inside and perimeter with 36 points, 14 rebounds, seven three pointers, and three blocks. Allen has had struggles against the best centers in the league, and as he gets more experience, the Nets hope he’ll be able to slow them down a bit more.

A left hander from Duke taken at the top of the NBA Draft? Nah we’re not talking about Zion Williamson, however, Barrett does have the Knicks feeling optimistic about their future. Barrett was taken third in the Draft and has been working to expand his game. He only shot 30.8 percent from three point range at Duke, but did shot 33 percent from deep in the preseason.

And no, I’m not calling him “Maple Mamba.” Hell nah.

As a second option, Caris Levert will get to flex his nuscles and showcase his emerging skills. Levert was second on the team in scoring, but his game could've gone a bit better. I'm interested to see if Kenny Atkinson will look to include Levert with the second unit throughout the year. The bench squad struggled mightily on Wednesday so having Levert with them could be a confidence booster for them.

Oh yeah, it’s Kyrie Irving jersey giveaway night. First 10,000 fans get a replica No. 11 jersey.

Player to watch: Elfrid Payton

The Knicks have been trying to figure out who will be their starting point guard, and of the three contenders for the spot, Payton might be the winner. He played the majority of the second half as the Knicks gave the Spurs a good fight.

If Kyrie keeps it up, he’ll own the city. Irving made his Brooklyn debut and had one of the best regular season games of his career as he scored 50 points and made every shot imaginable against the Wolves. He almost hit a move out of NBA Street to win the game, but we can’t have it all, can we? We’ll probably have a lot of discussion about how he and Durant almost became Knicks, but that issue is over and done with. Irving is primed to put another amazing performance together and getting his first win as a Net against his crosstown neighbors would be a nice touch.

And now for a little politics

Andrew Yang, the (upstate) New Yorker running for president, did a lengthy interview with NBC News about his basketball fandom, saying what’s wrong with the Knicks is what’s wrong with America (!).

A lapsed Knick fan who’s quite knowledgeable about the NBA, Yang has said James Dolan drove him from the Garden crowd and that if Dolan sells he’ll be back. In the meantime, Yang is a Nets fan. He told Benjy Sarlin of NBC News that it’s not just about who the Nets aren’t —the Knicks— but who they are.

“I’m like many, many other people in this boat, where you’ve been a Knicks fan for years and it’s incredibly frustrating and your team sucks and then the Nets show up and the Nets are everything you want in a team. They’re young and well-managed and well-coached and develop players and they’re fun. I’m friends with many people who are associated with the team, so that makes it easier.”

Yang has said he’s “friendly” with Joe Tsai and that he’ll be attending a Nets game soon, having spoke to Spencer Dinwiddie about dates.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence, in a major speech about China Thursday, accused the NBA of “acting like a wholly owned subsidiary” of China’s ruling Communist Party, part of the fallout of Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting anti-government protestors in Hong Kong.

Was he making a veiled reference to the only NBA team with a Chinese governor?

From the Vault

We don’t get to see rehearsal footage very often, so seeing this old footage of Whitney Houston messing around with Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing” is cool as hell

PS: Vote for Whitney and Chaka for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

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