Two New York teams, Knicks and Nets, going in opposite directions square off at the Barclay’s Center for Friday night hoops.
After getting absolutely blitzed by James Harden and falling to the offensive-minded Houston Rockets on Wednesday, the Knicks face another potent offensive attack in the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets have been on an absolute tear recently, going a league-best 18-5 over their last 23 games. Coach Kenny Atkinson has Brooklyn clicking on all cylinders, and the Nets have taken down some very good teams during their impressive stretch.
At the beginning of the season, Brooklyn consistently blew fourth-quarter leads and couldn’t seem to figure out how to close out games. Since their 8-18 start, the Nets have found success and have moved into the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff—all without their rising star Caris LeVert, who went down in early November with a gruesome foot injury.
D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie have been at the forefront of the Nets renaissance, with both proving to be extremely clutch and excellent offensive talents. Russell has finally found his way in the NBA after being drafted second overall in 2015 by the Lakers and disappointing for his first few years in the league. The 22-year-old has looked confident shooting the ball and brings a swagger to the Brooklyn backcourt that we haven’t seen in a while. He is averaging 24.3 points per game over his last ten games on 50 percent shooting (ESPN Stats & Info) and has the potential to give the Knicks fits from the perimeter with his shooting ability.
Additionally, Dinwiddie has been impressive off of the bench for Brooklyn as a nice complement to Russell. He has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four, and is proving more and more each game to be a nice find after being cast away by the Pistons. Dinwiddie is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, and multiple reports have stated that he has torn ligaments in his right thumb. As a result, the Knicks should expect to see a heavy dosage of Russell and Shabazz Napier running the point for Brooklyn.
In addition to their perimeter weapons, the Nets also possess an intimidating defensive force down low in Jarrett Allen. Allen has seemingly blocked every NBA superstar this year, and looks to prey on the Knicks driving to the rim. New York will likely have to settle for more jump shots as a result of Allen’s defensive prowess.
As the Nets are aiming to build on their five-game winning streak, the Knicks will be just as eager to end their seven-game losing streak. Head’s up, the Knicks have taken five of the last seven from the Nets, but Brooklyn has been on fire as of late, so it may not be wise to bet on the Knicks right now. Whether or not you’re willing to take that risk, at least research and see what the experts have to say, then take that advice when you make your educated bet. These 10 sites are a good starting point, as they’ve been reviewed by other users to ensure safety standards are met.
Here are some additional things to watch during tonight’s game.
Stopping the Three Ball
The Nets have been notorious recently for their willingness to shoot a bunch of threes, attempting the sixth most in basketball and making the fifth most (NBA Stats).
The Knicks did a pretty decent job against the Rockets last game, who also love hoisting up threes themselves. They need to have a similar performance if they want to cool off the scorching hot Nets.
The good news for New York is that Brooklyn doesn’t have a player of the caliber of James Harden, who is scary good at creating space for his jump shot and drawing fouls. If the Knicks are able to close out effectively and get a hand in the face of the perimeter shooters, as Mitchell Robinson did in the video below, it will go a long way in their chances of salvaging the final matchup of the year against their crosstown rival.
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 24, 2019
The Enes Kanter Situation
Enes Kanter was subjected to another dreaded DNP last game and continues to remain out of David Fizdale’s rotation. According to Kanter himself, he was told he was going to start the previous contest but was subsequently benched in favor of Mitch Rob, who played inspired ball.
Against the pick-and-roll happy Houston Rockets, Kanter would have likely been exposed due to his horrendous defense, but the real reason why Enes didn’t see any game action is still unclear. Kanter has expressed his frustration on various occasions and doesn’t seem to have an answer as to why his minutes have been cut to such a large degree.
It will be interesting to see if Kanter plays versus the Brooklyn Nets, a team he has historically dominated. If Kanter is relegated to the bench yet again—given his success against the Nets—there will be much more talk about a potential buyout or a trade coming in the near future.
Mudiay vs. Frank
It has come to the point in the season where Emmanuel Mudiay has begun to drive Knicks fans crazy with his erratic style of play and his propensity for turnovers. Now that Mudiay’s scoring has diminished, he doesn’t have a lot to offer, yet he somehow seems to steal crunch time minutes away from Frank Ntilikina.
Don’t get me wrong, Frank has been awful offensively, not scoring a single point last game in 24 minutes, but defensively he has been as advertised—especially in a recent stretch. It seems more likely patience is important for the Knicks to find minutes for the 20-year-old to produce.