Teams with different expectations square off on Wednesday night when the New York Knicks play host to the Brooklyn Nets.
Nobody expected the Knicks and Nets to have the same record through their first 11 games (5-6), but here we are. The battle with New York is going to be the Nets’ second game in as many days following a matchup with the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.
New York has maneuvered around various injuries to find itself playing competitive basketball. That’s despite a rather unimpressive three-game losing skid. The Knicks need to get better play from RJ Barrett, who they hope will be a key part of their future.
It’s unclear what the long-term vision of the Knicks is. However, with Julius Randle suddenly a star, it’s great that they hung on to him. There were some who expected him to potentially be traded. But, now he remains in New York and is throwing up near-triple-double numbers almost every night.
This game means a lot more to Nets fans than the Nets themselves, likely. There is no actual rivalry between New York’s basketball teams, though the media seems to want there to be one.
Every game matters obviously, but for the Nets, this is just another game on their schedule which they will hope to win.
If you’re betting online on this contest, the Nets are five-point favorites, with the over/under set at 218 1/2.
The Talented Brooklyn Nets
The best teams in the NBA are the ones that can still win games when their star players are off the floor and not playing. The Nets have made a habit of staying competitive despite significant roster injuries over the past several seasons. This year has been a bit different, but they are doing what they can to stay in games.
Caris LeVert has stepped into a starting role in Kyrie Irving’s absence. He is averaging around 18 points and six assists per game. Jarrett Allen, better known as “The Fro,” has stepped into a starting role and is flourishing. Allen is averaging a double-double and acting as a serviceable rim protector. And Joe Harris is shooting 52% from the floor.
Brooklyn is thankful to have Kevin Durant out of health and safety protocols and back on the floor. He scored 36 points in his first game back, something that was missed. He’s one of many good players on this squad.
Irving will miss his fifth contest in a row. He’s expected to be sidelined for “personal reasons” until at least Saturday. The NBA news is that Irving is being investigated after a video of him at a maskless birthday party showed up on social media.
Knicks Starters Working Hard
When Tom Thibodeau is your head coach, and you’re a high-end starter, chances are you will play a minimum of 35 minutes per game. This has been the case with Barrett and Randle. Both are averaging 37 minutes per game. And with a number of outings featuring them on the floor for 44 of 48 minutes.
It’s tough when your team is dealing with injuries, but the minutes’ load has to add up at some point. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah’s injuries in Chicago might be able to be directly tied to how hard they had to work every single night when Thibodeau was their coach. The other three starters average between 29 and 30 minutes per.
The Knicks have gotten a surprising spark from the return of Austin Rivers. Rivers has been playing very good basketball for the Knicks. This is reminiscent of his last season with the Clippers, where he was a starter and a featured player in the offense.
He’ll likely step into the starting lineup again with Reggie Bullock having injury troubles, as New York tries to beat the NBA odds again.
The Knicks Will Win?
When making your NBA picks, take the points but expect the Knicks to win this one outright.