Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Entering tonight's rubber match against the New York Knicks, the Nets are 13-11 and have won just two of their past nine games.
A win in the third matchup between their intra-city rivals, however, may go a long way toward helping the Nets feel a bit better about themselves than they have over the course of the past few weeks. The Knicks, after all, are 18-6 and are atop the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Heading into Wednesday night's showdown, Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace both spoke about the Brooklyn Nets' first matchup with the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
Wallace, who recorded 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in the Nets Dec. 11 loss to the Knicks, emphasized the importance of the Nets executing their game plan against their rival.
"We just gotta go out and play," he said. "We know what we gotta do to win. We know the crowd's gonna be in it. It's gonna be an exciting rivalry game at Madison Square Garden for the first time so we gotta stick to our principles and go out there and do what we gotta do and obviously, depending on our confidence go out there and have a better third quarter."
In the first two games against the Knicks, the Nets were able to control the tempo and were fairly successful in executing their offense. On Nov. 26, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler combined to score 63 of the Knicks 89 points, but no other member of the team scored in double figures. The Nets also held the Knicks to just 6-for-21 shooting from behind the three-point line.
And on Dec. 11, though the Knicks shot a much better 14-for-28 from behind the arc, the Nets limited them to just 10 offensive rebounds after allowing 17 in the first matchup.
So, for sure, guarding the three-point line and holding the Knicks off of the offensive glass are major keys for the Nets.
And when asked how the prospect of Anthony not being available for the Knicks would affect the Nets approach heading into the game, Deron Williams said it would not.
"Well, we know they beat the Heat in Miami without [Carmelo]. So, we know they're still a good team," he said.
"We know they have guys who are going to come in and step up, so if he doesn't play we're going to treat it the same way as if he plays, because they're a capable team."
Now, doing battle in New York City, Williams and Anthony have become the faces of their respective franchises.