If the teams end the season with the same record, though, splitting the season series may prove to be advantageous to the Nets.
The win for the Nets was critical as they split the season series two games apiece. If both teams finished the season with the same record, the tiebreaker would be their division records. The Nets have a 9-3 record against Atlantic opponents. The Knicks are 4-3.
“If we’re talking about staying at the top and winning our division, you can’t have any hiccups,” Knicks Coach Mike Woodson said before the game. “This game is very important, and we have to treat it that way.”
As significant as the win was for the Nets (25-16), it also validated their resurgence under Carlesimo and established that they can contend with the Knicks (25-14) for the division title for the remainder of the season.
That realization for the Knicks seemed to upset Smith the most after the game.
“Being 2-2 against them stinks,” he said. “It’s like kissing your sister. We just have to figure out a way to win divisional games.”