There is no bad blood, no ugly wars or battle scars, but ever since the fall of 2012 when the Brooklyn Nets first touched down in the Barclays Center, the two teams have battled for the rights to call themselves kings of the hardwood in New York.
“I don’t think we want to be like the Knicks. I think we’d more like to resemble the Lakers,” said owner of the Brooklyn Nets Mikhail Prokhorov in a statement released by the team.
That was in response to a radio ad the New York Knicks had run dissing the Nets in 2010. It may not be the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, but each time the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets come together; the winner is awarded with bragging rights.
If we look at the tale of the tape, the Knicks own the rights with a 5-3 advantage over the Nets. Both teams rosters have incurred a considerable amount of change since the rivalry first started. Who will take the crown this season?
Each game of the eight-game series thus far has been decided by an average of 15 points. New York bested Brooklyn, 3-1, in 2013. The first meeting between the Nets and Knicks last season was no contest.
The Knicks handily beat their next door neighbors to the tune of a 113-83 beatdown. Brooklyn returned the favor in the next game winning by 23 behind Joe Johnson‘s 25-point performance.
In the third meeting, New York erupted, beating Brooklyn 110-81. The final game featured a Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks lineup but they were still inferior that April night, winning in a balanced fashion 109-98.
When the rivalry first began, each team had entirely different expectations in their lap. Brooklyn had their stellar backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson assembled and the Knicks had re-signed their man, Carmelo Anthony, to a three-year, $65 million extension the year prior.
The Knicks had the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler but Brooklyn has their low post scorer, Brook Lopez. The stars were aligned for many memorable battles and each team had hinted at their aspirations of winning a championship. Now, after two seasons, the teams sit at an entirely different rung on the Eastern Conference playoff ladder.
Last year witnessed Brooklyn winning a thrilling playoff series over the Toronto Raptors before succumbing to a complete shellacking by the Miami Heat; a team they dispatched four different times during the regular season. The Knicks had lofty, and perhaps unrealistic championship expectations, and suffered an abysmal, injury-riddled season that saw New York miss the playoffs by one game.
New York and Brooklyn will face off another four times in 2014. Brooklyn has glaring issues in their frontcourt and an inconsistent star player at the helm.
The Knicks are coming off a season in which Anthony shouldered the load of offense for the majority of the season, and one in which the team showed little to no effort on the defensive side of the ball. Carmelo had a whopping 10.7 share of his team’s wins. The next closest player? Tyson Chandler at 4.9.
Brooklyn lost Pierce and Livingston to free agency. The pair held the second and third highest win-share percentages after Williams. In an effort to give more support to D-Will, Brooklyn infused fresh legs behind him after drafting Markel Brown and Xavier Thames. The Nets could use them.
Moving onto the 2014-15 NBA season, one team has a distinct advantage. That team is the New York Knicks. New York possesses one of the top three scorers in the NBA in Anthony. Brooklyn doesn’t have one player that strikes fear in an opponents eyes; Deron was supposed to do that.
There are very few players in the league that can match up with Melo one-on-one, one of which just retired: the stellar Shane Battier. When Anthony is pulling up and draining three pointers that can mean two things: your team’s night is likely over, or the Knicks are in the midst of getting blown out.
If the Nets want to beat the Knicks in this season’s series, it is in the pick and roll. New York’s struggles with the pick and roll are widely publicized. When Williams and Brook Lopez are healthy, expect them to attack the Knicks big men, including the newly acquired center Samuel Dalembert. At the moment, however, Brooklyn doesn’t give off a reason to pick them over New York this coming season.