The Nets head into today's action with a 16-22 record, second in the Atlantic division, eighth in the NBA's Eastern Conference. The Knicks are 15-25, third in the Atlantic, tied for 10th in the East for now. The two teams squared off at the Barclays Center back on December 5, with the Knicks blowing out the Nets by a score of 113-83.
In that game, the Knicks shot 57.1% from the field and an incredible 59.3% from three-point territory, going 16-of-27 from deep. The Nets had been struggling with their perimeter defense earlier this season, and no game exemplified their defensive struggles more than that game against the Knicks. However, in the 19 games since that blowout loss to their crosstown rivals, the Nets have allowed a shooting percentage of just 44.5%, with a 35.8% three-point shooting percentage allowed.
Brooklyn is 11-8 in the 19 games since these two teams last squared off, including a 6-1 start to the new year.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are 11-12 in 23 games since that previous meeting, including a 6-4 start to the new year.
The Knicks have lost three straight after a recent five-game winning streak.
Key Matchup: Both of these teams arguably play their best when they play small, and the Nets are committed to sticking with their small lineup as much as possible, with Joe Johnson at the 3, Paul Pierce at the 4, and Kevin Garnett at the 5.
It's no secret that the Knicks' best player is the Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks don't really have a consistent second scoring option, and if the Nets can force the ball out of Melo's hands, it puts a lot of pressure on his teammates to step up.
Depending on how the Knicks match up with the Nets' small lineup, we might see a lot of Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce defending Anthony primarily, with Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson, and perhaps Shaun Livingston getting a crack at him as well.
Player to Watch: Kirilenko is always an X-factor, with his tenacious defensive, through-the-roof basketball IQ, and general knack for making the right play at the right time. AK47 has been a breath of fresh air since returning to the court, and it's no coincidence whatsoever that the Nets have played much better ball since his return.