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Neither the New York Knicks nor Brooklyn Nets are enjoying strong starts to the year as the two city rivals meet for the first time this season.

Brooklyn is being attacked from all angles over Kyrie Irving’s antisemitism fiasco. Their coaching plan post-Steve Nash is anybody’s guess at this point. Everything is less about basketball and more if Kyrie will meet the Nets’ requirements to return to the court.

The Knicks, aside from not being a colossal clown show this season, otherwise haven’t looked inspiring through ten games. The team isn’t defending particularly well and looks streaky at best, even after a dominant win in Minnesota on Monday.

They’ll look to make that two in a row when they face the shorthanded Nets at the Barclays Center on Wednesday.

Time: Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET


Injuries: Mitchell Robinson (knee, out), Quentin Grimes (questionable, foot), Kyrie Irving (suspension, out), TJ Warren (foot, out) Yuta Watanabe (foot, questionable)

Betting Line: Knicks +2.5, Over/Under 223, via FanDuel

Key Storyline: Can Tom Thibodeau finally beat Brooklyn? It’s easy to miss how since Tom Thibodeau took over as head coach in 2020, the Knicks have yet to beat the Nets once. Their last win at the Barclays Center was on Dec. 26, 2019 under interim coach Mike Miller. Under Thibodeau, they’re 0-7 against their crosstown rivals and would love to change that Wednesday.

They finally might get their chance. Not only is Irving still suspended, but the Nets have stumbled to a 4-7 start amidst his chaos. Nobody has stepped up alongside Kevin Durant in his absence either. The healthier Knicks are 5-5 and absolutely must capitalize on this opportunity for a big win.

Key Matchup: Cam Reddish vs. Joe Harris. Neither the Nets nor the Knicks have done a great job shooting the three early on, respectively ranking 18th and 22nd in the league. That still doesn’t stop this rivalry tilt from having high-scoring potential. Reddish and Harris can thus expect to be key contributors if the game trends in that direction.

Harris has struggled to making just 32.6% of his threes in nine games, well below his career three-point percentage (3P%) of 43.7%. He at least has the excuse of coming back from an injury, but Reddish could prove a tough match for him. The former Duke Blue Devil is a fixture in Thibodeau’s rotation after barely cracking it last year and has made 40.7% of his threes.

Both teams need to make a statement from long range, so keep an eye on these two shooters.

X-factor: Julius Randle. Randle is heating up and could be in line for a big game against Brooklyn. The Nets have started smaller lineups in their last couple of games save for Nic Claxton and Durant, and the latter barely spends time in the paint. This sets up Randle for not just a great game, but a potentially monster one.

It helps that Randle has performed well against the Nets in his career. He’s posted 20.1 points and 9.8 rebounds in 18 games, almost in line with what he’s done this season. He already had a monster night in Minnesota on Monday, draining eight threes. Let’s see him build off of it with an equally strong night in Brooklyn for him and his Knicks.

Knicks predicted starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), RJ Barrett (SG), Cam Reddish (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Jericho Sims (C)

Nets predicted starters: Edmond Sumner (PG), Joe Harris (SG), Kevin Durant (SF), Royce O’Neal (PF), Nic Claxton (C)

Prediction. Believe it or not, the Knicks haven’t won consecutive games for nearly two weeks. The Nets are just shorthanded and injured enough that New York should storm into Brooklyn and make relatively short work. Durant will help keep the game close, but the Knicks’ firepower will win out and finally break this winless streak. Knicks, 110-103.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.