Game preview: Nets head home for Battle of the Boroughs, Game 1, against Knicks on ESPN


Damn, that one would have been nice. The Nets ended their three-game road trip at 2-1, which anyone would have taken before Brooklyn left for DC last Friday. But the 3-0 man would have been nice, and they almost got him. After defeating the Wizards and Hornets over the weekend, Brooklyn lost a close game to Dallas, 96-94. And it wasn’t your usual old two-point loss; Kevin Durant was on the free throw line with a chance to tie it.

But KD missed what would have been his 63rd consecutive free throw, and Brooklyn

lost a heartbreak in the Big D.

Of course, Durant’s missed free throw wasn’t the only reason for the loss. The Nets closed the first quarter with 34 points but couldn’t break 100 for the game. They only scored 21 points in the last frame. No player on their bench finished with a positive plus/minus, thanks in part to Yuta Watanabe’s ankle injury in the second quarter, which tied him up for the rest of the night. That includes Ben Simmons’ 16 minutes on the bench, which were largely uninspiring.

Ultimately, the game came down to the Mavericks figuring out their main defensive strategy after the first quarter, which doubled Durant and walked away. Those rotations accelerated throughout the game, eventually hitting a pace the Brooklyn offense simply couldn’t match.

The news wasn’t all bad, however. Despite shooting 43 percent from three, Dallas and its league-best offense were on a leash. Nic Claxton and Durant in particular did an admirable job defending Luka Doncic one-on-one, while the Nets still put a lid on the rim. They largely gave up on Luka’s doubling after the first quarter, a risky strategy which, despite 36 points from Doncic, worked very well. The energy, overall, in the final Road Trip game, was as good as you could ask for.

All of that would have been easier to swallow with a win in tow. Alas, Brooklyn has a chance to redeem themselves Wednesday night against the fearsome New York Knicks.

Where to watch the game

We’ve got a double dip, with the game streaming on both YES Network (and the YES app) as well as ESPN, nationally. WFAN-FM has the radio call and the festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, from the Barclays Center.


TJ Warren and Kyrie Irving remain out, rehabilitating their footing and public image, respectively. As for Yuta Watanabe’s sprained gnarly ankle, that will keep him out for Wednesday’s contest, at the very least.

Meanwhile, the ‘Icks sidelined Mitchell Robinson (knee). And sophomore guard Quentin Grimes (foot) is officially questionable for the game.

The game

The New York Knicks could very well play in a simulation, as John Hollinger noted after their comfortable victory over the disappointing Timberwolves:

It’s true: the Manhattan team serves as the perfect measuring stick for Brooklyn. They are, so far, quite average.

Those satisfying symmetrical numbers do indeed fit the visual test: The Knicks have quality talent and are playing decently hard, but not hard enough to truly separate themselves from the pack. The only real difference to previous iterations of this team under Tom Thibodeau, besides having Jalen Brunson, is that they’re more likely to push the ball downfield in transition.

Look for the Nets to get hot from three, shooting in their home gym. The Knicks aren’t giving up many shots at the rim; the Nets aren’t interested in edge shots, currently shooting the third-fewest of them, according to Cleaning the Glass. The Knicks instead made the sacrifice of allowing 40% of the shots against them to come from deep. Only the Miami Heat can say the same. A good game for the Nets, especially for Joe Harris and Seth Curry? It could be the right one.

Preoccupation? Bench game. Brooklyn isn’t deep without Irving, Watanabe and most of Simmons, who are now coming back from two injuries. Meanwhile, the Knicks are just deep. Their starting lineup chokes with a net rating of -8.8. Heavy rosters do the opposite, especially those backed by Brunson. Immanuel Quickley is rising in this league, but may already be better than any Brooklyn guard currently playing games. Shocking as it may sound, Cameron Reddish would be a welcome addition across the Brooklyn Bridge right now. And boy oh boy, would Isaiah Hartenstein fit right in as the great replacement Brooklyn could use? Instead, we’ll likely see a bigger dose of Markieff Morris, given Watanabe’s injury. Bench minutes are going to be key on Wednesday.

Player to watch

RJ Barrett is coming into his fourth season with Duke. At just 22, he averages 20/6/3, albeit on the pedestrian segments: just 29% deep and 43% overall. And while those numbers are anchored by a putrid start to the season (11 points from 3-18), you can’t just drop a game in such a small sample.

Still, Barrett is firmly a good player, and an All-Star path isn’t out of the question. The rim pressing and ensuing high-level passes from that area of ​​the court may never be elitist, but if he puts you on that right hip, it’s over. At a legit 6’6″, he’s got a thick frame and the fingerboard to make any contest but a tall irrelevant. And he’s currently on a small radiator of three, having gone 13-30 in his five last contests. It will probably be Joe Harris and Royce O’Neale who will split the time with him, with Durant on Julius Randle.

Oh yeah, one more thing: the Nets fired his sponsor last week.

From the safe

This rivalry sounded much better when the Nets were playing in Jersey, perhaps the biggest pitfall of their move to Brooklyn. “The Turnpike Classic” and “The Function at the Junction” knock “Battle of the Boroughs” out of the park.

Anyway, to relive the wonderful years, how about remembering the beef between Kenyon Martin and Tim Thomas, sparked by Jason Collins’ blatant playoff foul on Thomas, who, after a few twists and turns, would call Martin “fugazi”. New Jersey would sweep that 2004 first-round series, for what it’s worth.

SB Nation’s own secret base even has a whole “beef story” about Thomas and Martin. It’s a lot more layered than you might remember:

To learn more, go to Posting and toasting.

Brooklyn Nets will switch against New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m.. All Nationally Televised NBA Games can be watched on SlingTV.


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