With the New York Knicks surging and Brooklyn Nets looking better, we break down what to expect this week in New York City NBA basketball.
Knicks fans are excited at the possibility of a playoff run, and a team full of stars playing at the level they were expected to, whereas the Nets are waiting for their biggest star to simply return to the lineup and help right the ship. We haven’t reached Christmas yet, and already the Knicks feel like they will be standing tall at season’s end, while Brooklyn seems destined for the lottery (which isn’t a reason to celebrate since the Boston Celtics can swap picks with them this season).
For New York, that optimism comes from an undefeated week, with the team going 4-0 against a slate of Minnesota Timberwolves (twice), Sacramento Kings, and Miami Heat. This was a stretch where the team would be favored in nearly every game, and after showing some promise, fans were curious if there would be complacency or a letdown at all.
They got their answer.
In the first Minnesota game, it was Kristaps Porzingis leading the way with 29 points and eight rebounds in a fun match-up with Karl-Anthony Towns, and Carmelo Anthony helping out with the go-ahead jumper late in the fourth. Anthony would score 20 or more in each of the next three wins as well, including 35 Tuesday night in Miami, helping the team rally from a double-digit deficit in the second half.
If the Knicks continue to get maximum production from Porzingis, Anthony, and Derrick Rose, a playoff spot is a completely reasonable expectation, something the team isn’t used to lately. The win over Miami put them three games over .500, the first time they’ve sat in that position at any point over the last three seasons.
Meanwhile, the Nets would need a lot of progress and a pretty miraculous turnaround to even get back to .500. The team lost each of their last three games, which included a home-and-home with Milwaukee Bucks and a close defeat at home to Washington Wizards.
There does seem to be a silver lining despite the disappointing results, as last Tuesday’s double-overtime win over the LA Clippers showcased a new potential star that Brooklyn might be able to rely on going forward. Sean Kilpatrick, a third-year shooting guard from the University of Cincinnati, scored 38 against the Clippers including 31 in the 2nd half and overtimes, providing a spark the team desperately needed.
With Jeremy Lin‘s return from injury potentially approaching, a backcourt combination of Lin and Kilpatrick might help get the Nets headed in the right direction.