D'Angelo Russell, Kevin Knox
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will meet for the final time this year and Brooklyn can take the season series.

  • New York Knicks (10-36)
  • Brooklyn Nets (26-23)
  • NBA, East, Friday, Jan. 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG, YES
  • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are putting a bow on the season series on Friday. January might seem a little early for the crosstown rivals to play their last game. Nonetheless, this is the end of the line so fans of both teams will have year-long bragging rights on the line.

The last time these two teams played, they were in similar places. Each team was without its star player. Consequently, playoff dreams were more like pipe dreams.

Since then, the teams are heading in opposite directions.

Enes Kanter has publicly demanded a trade, while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Allonzo Trier have their own issues to deal with. New York has battled to some close defeats in the recent weeks. To make matters worse, they have only won three games since Dec. 1.

What better time for the Knicks to beat their crosstown rival and secure a much-needed win that will give the players (and fans) some sense of relief? That won’t be an easy task.

The Nets have skyrocketed up the standings and sit in the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. D’Angelo Russell is making a serious bid for an All-Star appearance and head coach Kenny Atkinson is pushing all the right buttons. Brooklyn is one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA, hands down.

However, Spencer Dinwiddie appears to be out for the foreseeable future and that is a huge loss for Brooklyn. The Nets rely on Dinwiddie to lead one of the best benches in the league and he regularly closes out games. How the Nets respond to Dinwiddie’s injury will be interesting to see.

The aforementioned Russell has the weight of the team on his shoulders now. Despite his All-Star performances of late, it’s easy to forget that Russell isn’t always on the court in clutch situations for the Nets. Without Dinwiddie, that no longer becomes an option. Russell is really the only go-to option for Atkinson because he’s the one guy who can truly create his own shot.

New York doesn’t have anyone playing near an All-Star level, but Kevin Knox appears to have that potential. The lanky forward has shown glimpses this season and he took home the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December.

That being said, we’re waiting for that jaw-dropping performance that makes the rest of the league stop what they’re doing and take notice. He came close to that type of performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, but it resulted in a loss. If he were to light up the Nets in a win on Friday night, it would be a major statement for the rookie.

A primetime performance from Knox would help ease a Knicks fanbase that is growing more restless by the day. He’s the bright future that fans envision. The recent losing streak isn’t easy for any team or fanbase to endure. Knox leading the Knicks to victory that would tie the season series with Brooklyn would be a brief respite for everyone associated with the Knicks.

This game could obviously go a million different ways. The Knicks have surprised a few playoff teams this year and they took the Houston Rockets down to the wire on Wednesday night. The Nets will be shorthanded once again and there’s no telling how they’ll bounce back from the loss of Dinwiddie.

That being said, the Nets are still the more talented team and they should handle the Knicks with relative ease. It’s likely that D’Angelo Russell—a guard that thrives in pick-and-roll—will go off against the hapless Knicks defense.

Knox certainly has the potential to explode for a big night and steal a victory in Barclays. But I’m not willing to put my faith in a rookie over a fourth-year point guard coming into his own.

The Knicks will hang around with Brooklyn for most of the game, but Russell and company will pull away in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn will win this one 124-111.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.