WHAT A GAME!!! Game 2 of this newly minted rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks was even more exciting than the first game between the two teams which ended in overtime. Even after that first game there were doubters saying how this matchup couldn’t be considered a rivalry because of how new it was, but after last night’s thriller all of those naysayers must jump ship. The intensity in the Barclays Center was so high that it had a playoff atmosphere feel to it. Both teams had fans representing them cheering with “Defense” and “MVP” chants all night long. The arena was filled with the expected superstar celebrities like Jay-Z, Spike Lee and many more New Yorkers that were split between the Knicks and Nets. The game was exhilarating from beginning to end and the Knicks came out on top with a 100-97 win to even the series between these two teams at 1-1.
While the excitement over this game was similar to the first game between these two teams, there were a lot of differences entering this contest. In the first matchup between theses foes, the Knicks were without Jason Kidd and the Nets were full strength, while in the second matchup the Nets were missing their stud Brooks Lopez and Knicks were healthy…that is without Shumpert and Stoudemire. After the Knicks loss in game 1, I mentioned that the absence of Jason Kidd was the main contributor to the their demise. Boy was I right! Kidd showed flashes of the All-Star who lead the then New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals a decade ago. The Knicks were in a deep hole early in the game and trailed by as many as 17 points but with the veteran leadership that Kidd has displayed all season long, there never seemed to be a sense of panic on the side of the Orange and Blue.
While Kidd kept the pace of the game exactly where the Knicks needed it to be, the real superstar of this fantastic game was the man they call Melo. Carmelo Anthony had his best game of the season and proved why the New York faithful has been justly chanting “MVP MVP” on a nightly basis. Melo had a stat line of 45-5-3 while shooting a lights out 15-24 from the field. It looked at times as if Carmelo had placed a magnet in the rim and the ball and every time he tossed it up it was just drawn to the hoop. It was arguably his best game since the Knicks acquired him two years back. The Nets came out of the gates flying and were up 21-5 at the beginning of the game, but Carmelo Anthony knew this was his game to win and he put his team on his shoulders and played outstanding and inspired ball.
Brooklyn’s hot start was a huge surprise to me, especially with how well the Knicks have been playing and how poorly the Nets have been. Since the first matchup between these teams, the Knicks had gone 6-1 while the Nets have been 2-5 and they were in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. Everything seemed to be in the Knicks favor heading into the game but the Nets had a secret weapon that only my man NYBobby seemed to know about. Andray Blatche, the back up to the injured Lopez, seemed to put anything he tossed up into the bucket. I called Bobby before the game and said that the Knicks were going to manhandle the Nets because Lopez was out but he responded by saying that Blatche was going to have a huge game. I hate to admit when he is right but I have to give credit where credit is due. Blatche finished with 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting and he had the best +/- on the Nets with a +9.
As for the Point Guards in this matchup, there really was a lot of disappoints on both sides…more so for the Knicks. For the second straight time against the Nets, Raymond Felton seemed to be lost on the floor for much of the game as he committed 7 of the Knicks 10 turnovers. Felton’s shooting was abysmal where he finished with 3 of 12 from the floor to end up with an ugly stat line of 8-1-7 with 7 turnovers. On the other end, Deron Williams, who is easily considered a top 3 PG in the league, had an off night himself. While he ended up with 18 points and 10 assists, he really never found a rhythm all night and he even missed a potentially game tying open three pointer.
During last night’s contest I was on the edge of my seat the whole time as the game was filled with nonstop action. With the series between these teams split 1 a piece, the next game has a lot of importance. Luckily for fans of both clubs, we don’t have to wait to long for that matchup because the two teams face off again, this time in the Garden, a week from today. I am thrilled to say that New York not only has two potentially dangerous playoff teams, but they have a newly found rivalry that I expect to be around for years.
If you are a basketball fan, then you were definitely tuned in for the first ever game between the newly formed inner-city rivalry New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. This was a make up game that was postponed due to the devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. One of the biggest questions heading into this contest was whether or not these teams could be considered a rivalry or not. If it wasn’t a rivalry before the game, it sure as hell is now. While the outcome of 96-89 win for the Brooklyn Nets was a disappointing one to Knicks fans like myself, the atmosphere around the game was absolutely brilliant for the NBA and especially New York.
My boy NYBobby recently wrote about how the Brooklyn Nets deserve more praise then they are getting for their impressive start the season (https://sports-debaters.com/2012/11/18/big-ups-to-brooklyin/). I, of course, gave him a hard time and explained that to get quality press you must get quality wins. Since that article, the Nets had a huge win over the LA Clippers, who are a top 3 team in the Western Conference, and last night they pulled out an even bigger win against the then Atlantic Division leading Knicks. Now the Nets sit tied on top of the Atlantic Division with the Knicks and I feel that I owe them some recognition. Clearly, the Brooklyn Nets are a team to recon with this season and while I still rank them behind the Knicks, the disparity between the two isn’t nearly what I thought it was.
Last nights game was a lot more then just a regular season win for the Brooklyn Nets and loss for the New York Knicks. The game was played in the Nets new stomping grounds, the Barclays Center, and boy was it rocking. The turnout for the game was way more electrifying then I thought it could be and both teams were represented well by their supporters. While the commentators seemed to think the crowd was a 60-40 split in favor of the Nets, I thought it was 50-50. There were actual points in the game where I couldn’t tell if a play went good or bad for the Knicks because they had an equal amount of fans and haters. The stadium was a very unappealing mix of black, silver, blue and orange and the intensity was high.
Throughout the game, I was on the phone with Bobby talking about how exciting this regular season game was. I rarely put much stock in any of the first 50 games of an NBA season as teams are just trying to find their footing. That being said, the Knicks and Nets clearly new what this game could mean for the city and after the Nets big win, the city of New York now has 2 #1 teams to root for. While I am Knicks fan through and through and I will never root against them, I do now have a small place in my heart for New York’s newest team. New York has not had two quality teams in the same sport since the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees back in 2000. The Jets, Giants and even the forgotten Bills are never good at the same time, or in the Bills case…ever, and the Mets always seem to suck when the Yankees are thriving, which is almost always.
A lot of people are saying that the Nets and Knicks can’t be considered a rivalry because neither has been relevant in quite some time, but that’s not how I see it. Knicks/Nets games has always been an important matchup on each teams respective calendars for a while now. Just because neither team has been good recently shouldn’t take away from the intensity that both teams bring out of each other. In their first battle as newly minted inner-city rivals, the two teams fought tooth and nail to earn a “W” and the Nets came out victorious in an exhilarating overtime thriller. Sure, the Knicks were without Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert and Amare Stoudemire and the Nets were completely healthy, but I’m not an excuse maker and the Nets deserved the win. Deron dominated Raymond and while Melo and Tyson had their best games of the season, it just wasn’t enough to defeat the scrappy Nets.
As tough as last nights loss was, I am very happy to know that the Knicks will not have to wait long to pay the Nets back with a taste of their own medicine as the two teams will face off once again on national television Tuesday, December 11th in the Barclays Center and then again on December 19th in the Garden. Firstly, I want the Knicks to win because I just love the Knicks. Secondly, I want the Knicks to win to shut Charles Barkley and Shaq the hell up. Congratulations to the Nets for their hard fought victory and I know I will be ready for another exciting game two weeks from today. Sit back and enjoy the ride New York because it looks like our city has two teams that are looking to make some noise this year.
Today might be a day that changes the face of New York City Basketball. The Nets, who are preparing for their first season in Brooklyn made a huge splash on the trade front yesterday. They dealt Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and DeShawn Stevenson and a 2013 first round pick for Atlanta Hawks All-Star guard Joe Johnson. The Nets were horrific last year and there was no way that they could enter this season in Brooklyn with the same roster. Their hope was trading for Johnson would convince point guard Deron Williams that they are serious about competing. What the Nets are rumored to be doing today would absolutely hammer that point home to D-Will.
After yesterday, it was assumed that the Nets would no longer have the pieces necessary to deal for Dwight Howard. Howard has let the world know that the only place he wants to play is in Brooklyn and said that he would refuse to sign with any other team. Basically, Howard has tied the Magic’s front office’s hands behind their backs, warning any other team that they will only be renting him for a year and maybe they should think twice about mortgaging their futures. Therefore, the only team that it would be worth trading their young talent for Dwight is Brooklyn. After the Johnson trade, it didn’t appear that there was any young talent left to moved.
However, when you woke up this morning ESPN’s Chris Broussard had reported that the Nets are in discussions with Orlando to potentially land the premier big man. The Nets are reportedly offering Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and their first round picks for 2013, 2015 and 2017. If the trade goes through, the Nets would have traded away their entire roster in a matter of two days, leaving only Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard and hopefully Deron Williams to build their team around. However, if you look at the blue print the Miami Heat laid out for the NBA world to see, it is clear that this would have a great chance of working. No matter who the Nets filled the roster in with, they would certainly be a playoff team and an automatic contender for the next few years.
Why would this scenario work great for Brooklyn? First of all, there would be energy and life in the Barclays Center each and every night to welcome the Nets to Brooklyn. If you watched the NBA playoffs and saw the difference the OKC crowd made in lifting the Thunder at home, the same could be expected from a Brooklyn fan base that has wanted a pro sports team since the Dodgers left town. This Brooklyn squad would have the opportunity to write the Nets history books in the biggest media market in the world. The Nets would be bringing in the best center in the game, one of the top 3 point guards and maybe the best #3 option in Johnson in all of basketball, though Chris Bosh or James Harden might think differently. Deron Williams has been linked to both Dallas and Brooklyn as landing spots, but Brooklyn makes much more sense, assuming Howard and Johnson are both Nets. Although the NBA Champion Miami Heat play in the East, the Nets with these three stars would catapult into a contender immediately. If these guys team up in the West, there would be more teams for them to compete against, as they will battle the Thunder, Spurs, Lakers, Clippers and Mavericks who are always contenders.The Boston Celtics are aging, the Chicago Bulls are often injured and the New York Knicks have plenty of their own issues (Amare Stoudemire). It is possible that the Nets would win the Atlantic Division as soon as next year. Having a top line center, point guard and wing player would be a different “big three” model than we have seen recently and I think it would be dominant.
As a Nets fan, my expectations heading into next season were low. The Nets, even with Deron Williams last season were as previously mentioned abysmal. How much of that had to do with them leaving New Jersey and a lack of fan support, or how much of that was due to lack of talent and injuries? Well it appears we’ll never know because Brooklyn’s version of the Nets will most likely look extremely different. If the Nets get Dwight Howard then they will be instant contender. If the Nets fail to land Howard but field a team of D-Will, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries, they should also be entertaining and I would expect a playoff appearance. If they fail to trade for Dwight, sign Williams and are left with a roster of Johnson and who they had last year, it might be a long couple years. But today is all about optimism and I am totally expecting the next big three to be playing in Brooklyn for the next 5 or 6 years! Better get your tickets now before it all becomes official and you can still afford to go and watch the newest hot ticket in town.
Now that the NBA season is over, fans will wait in anticipation for the Free Agent market to open up so they can see if their teams are prepared to build or rebuild for success. While the 2012 class of FA’s doesn’t bring nearly the attention that the 2010 one did, (i.e. Lebron, Bosh, Wade, Stoudemire), there is still a ton of talent up for grabs. Every team in the NBA has a different need and this Free Agent class has a buffet of tasty options to fill those needs. From perennial all-star, Deron Williams, to surprising stand out big man, Roy Hibbert, there is no shortage of talent for teams to feast off of. I would like to say that these unrestricted Free Agents would do what was right and not sell out for the big bucks, but that’s unrealistic thinking nowadays. Here is a list of some of the big FA’s and where I think their best fits would be.
Deron Williams: Easily one of the best point guards in the NBA, there isn’t a team around that wouldn’t want Deron leading their attack. Unfortunately for 28 of those hopeful teams, Deron has already come out and said that he has narrowed his choices down to two. He will either be the face of the new Brooklyn Nets franchise, where is currently playing, or he will go back to his hometown of Dallas and join Dirk Nowitzki for what would be considered one of the best teams in the NBA. Williams has made it clear that he wants to play for the team with the best foundation for winning a championship now. “I want to go to a place where I feel like they will have a chance to build and build fast,” Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not really in the mood for being part of a rebuilding process. I’m getting older. I’m about to be 28. I want to win. I want to win now. Also, I want to live in a place where I want to live and my kids will enjoy living. That’s pretty much it.” I think that if he wants the best chance of winning then he better pack his bags and go home because Brooklyn will be a struggling franchise for years to come.
Roy Hibbert: There used to be a time where a team couldn’t succeed without a Center and the forefront of their team. Now there are teams that win Championships, i.e. The Miami Heat, without even playing a Center. The NBA is down to a handful of respectable Centers and Roy Hibbert is towards the top of that list. Luckily for the Indiana Pacers, Hibbert is a restricted Free Agent, meaning that they can match any offer that is made to him. With Marc Gasol in Memphis making close to $14 million next season, Hibbert will be looking for similar money based on their identical skill sets. While Hibbert fits in perfectly with young and talented Pacers, I feel he can benefit a lot more with a couple of other teams. If the Nets retain Deron Williams, which I don’t think they will, then Hibbert would be a great compliment for him. With the possible loss of Dwight, the Orlando Magic could be a nice fit for Hibbert as well.
Steve Nash: I saw this mock picture of Nash in a Knicks jersey so I had to use it. Nash has been the best point guard in the NBA over the past decade+. With two NBA MVP awards and an ability to pass a basketball through the tightest of situations, Nash has the skills to lead any team to a successful season. I can pretty much guarantee that Nash will leave the Phoenix Suns and his destination will be determined solely on whether he goes for the money or the ring. There are tons of teams in need of a point guard, but only a few teams that can afford to pay them a large salary. The Knicks are considered a possibility for Nash, but with a lot of monetary restrictions they might not be able to sign him. The Brooklyn Nets, (I know I have mentioned them a lot but they have the most money and space for Free Agents), if they lose Deron, will have a huge vacancy to fill and Nash would be perfect for that. There have also been rumors that the Heat might pursue Nash and if that actually goes through I will boycott this NBA season…not really but come on! Toronto is also a possible destination for Nash due solely to the fact that he is Canadian. This might be a biased statement, but I feel that Nash’s best option would be the Knicks due to the fact that if he went there he wouldn’t have to carry the whole load with Jeremy Lin most likely returning and I couldn’t think of a better mentor to learn under for Lin.
Kevin Garnett: This 36-year old future Hall of Famer would be a great fit for any team. Even in a year where people considered him to be washed up, Garnett was clearly the piece, outside of Rondo, that kept the veteran Celtics together. The Celtics were +267 with Garnett on the floor during the regular season compared to -101 with him on the bench. There is a huge possibility that KG can end up staying with Boston or there have even been rumors that he might retire. If neither of those things happen then I feel there are a couple of great fits for him. If the Lakers get rid of Pau Gasol, he is being heavily shopped, then they would have a void in the PF position and KG and his veteran leadership would be a great fit to help Kobe get his sixth ring. I also feel that the Denver Nuggets, with the possible loss of big man JaVale McGee, could be a good fit for KG. If Garnett decides to move his talents, it will most likely not be for the money because he had just come off making $22 million last season and has earned over $300 million during his 17 year career. KG will be looking for ring number two and if he feels that it is in reach then he is going to grab it.
Lou Williams: If it wasn’t for James Harden then Lou Williams would have been the sixth man of the year. Lou provided instant offense and has an aggressiveness that brings fans to their feet. Williams is one of the major reasons that the Sixers were able to upset the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. There are plenty of teams that are in need of a prolific scorer and Lou can fill that role perfectly. Philadelphia will do whatever they can to keep him around, but with his value skyrocketing over the past season, Lou might find some reasons to play elsewhere…millions of reasons. With Derrick Rose most likely missing some of next season due to injury, Chicago might be a great fit for Lou to fill in that point guard roll. If Deron doesn’t end up in Dallas then the Mavericks might search for a Lou type player as well. In my opinion, I think the Portland Trailblazers would be the best option for Williams so he can join forces with Lamarcus Aldridge and become a force in the Western Conference.Even though he isn’t a FA, Dwight Howard most definitely will be traded sooner than later, and the Free Agent market might get shook up. Rumors put Dwight in Brooklyn or even Los Angeles and if that happens then the flood gates will open and players will be moving at a rapid pace. With Free Agents like OJ Mayo (restricted); George Hill (unrestricted); Jason Kidd (unrestricted); Ray Allen (unrestricted); Jeremy Lin (restricted); Ryan Anderson (restricted); Carl Landry (unrestricted); Kris Humphries (unrestricted); Andre Miller (unrestricted) and many more, there are plenty of compliments to a teams superstar. Let’s just hope that they don’t all bring their talents to South Beach because it would be nice to see a competitive season next year.