For the fourth time this season, the New York Basketball derby takes place, as the New York Knicks host the Brooklyn Nets, hoping to beat their city rivals for a third consecutive time.
After a lot of ups and downs this season for both teams up to this point, there’s only two games seperating the two teams battling for the Atlantic division title. The Knicks are 25-13, the Nets are 24-16. The Nets, with an 8-1 record in January under P.J. Carlesimo, 10-2 including his late 2012 arrival. The Knicks are going through good and bad streaks, winning their last two games against the Hornets and the Pistons, following three straight losses to above .500 teams in the Eastern conference.
If there is one player that’s extremely looking forward to this game, it has to be Carmelo Anthony, averaging 37 points in the previous three encounters between the two teams. He scored 31 points on December 19 to lead the Knicks to a 100-86 victory and 45 points on December 11 in a 100-97 win.
Deron Williams returning to the form he’s been known for before this season has been a key piece of the Nets’ resurgence. Williams is averaging 19.3 points and 8.1 assists in January, looking once again like the man happiest about a coaching change that may or may not had something to do with him being not-too-happy about the system he was playing in. He scored 24 points in the Nets’ 94-89 win against the Atlanta Hawks.
Health is an issue for the Knicks, missing Raymond Felton, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby, while Iman Shumpert is returning from an injury that kept him out through the first half of the season. He played his first game of the season in the win against the Detroit Piston in London, scoring 8 points.
Predictions – The Knicks have a tested way of winning. Good defense, excellent outside shooting. The Nets don’t need to worry too much about Anthony putting a lot of points on the board, he’ll get them anyway. Denying him easy passes to open shooters is more vital if they’re to beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden for the first time.