Tonight the Nets will have another “home” game in Newark when they host the New York Knicks. When the Nets were home two nights ago, it felt like a road game as Miami Heat fans invaded The Rock. Expect the crowd to be even more against the Nets tonight because New York is right across the river. The Knicks are a very popular team and their fans travel well everywhere on the east coast. Expect more than half the crowd to be rooting for New York tonight.
The Nets are 1-1 against the Knicks this season, with both games occurring in New York. This will be the rubber game and the winner will have the bragging rights going into next season when the Nets are in New York. Both of the previous two games were entertaining. The first time they met up was the first game ever of “Linsanity”. Lin got his first ever chance to play major minutes and he took advantage of it to lead the Knicks to victory. We all know how Lin exploded after that. The second game these two teams played was probably my favorite Nets game of the season. Coming into the game, some were saying that Jeremy Lin was a better point guard than Deron Williams. Williams answered that by exploding for 38 points and 8 3’s to stun the Garden crowd, including scoring 10 points in under a minute, before he fouled out in the fourth quarter. I love Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel, by the way. However, Williams will not be playing tonight due to a leg injury, so the other Nets are going to have to step up. You could tell that many of the Nets, especially Deron and Kris Humphries, loved playing in front of the MSG crowd, and will be facing a similar crowd tonight. Because of that, expect a big game from The Hump. He definitely hates the Knicks.
The Knicks have had an extremely up-and-down season, but right now is probably one of the higher points (which means that when the playoffs come around, they will be in a low point). They are coming off a good victory over Boston last night led by their 3-point shooting. However, if not for that shooting, they wouldn’t have had a chance at winning that game because their defense was awful. The team shot 19-32 overall, nearly 60%. They were led by Steve Novak and J.R. Smith who somehow shot a ridiculous 15-20 from 3. However, do not expect those numbers tonight. First of all, it is very hard for a team to repeat a shooting performance two nights in a row. Shooting is usually an up-and-down thing (just like the Knicks this year), and the Knicks are due for a poor performance. J.R. Smith is the streakiest shooter, and he will definitely not shoot 70% two nights in a row. Also, this game is at the Prudential Center, a building known for its terrible sightlines which make it difficult for shooters. Deron Williams complains about it, and it’s his home arena! The Knicks won’t be used to it and that might hurt them. Some of you won’t believe that, but just wait til tomorrow. You will see.
The Knicks are obviously led by ballhog Carmelo Anthony, who is even taking a lot of shots for Carmelo since Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin got injured. If the Nets can find somebody to guard Carmelo without fouling (which may not be possible unless they have Gerald Wallace) and if they can guard the 3 (which they have been terrible at all year without Wallace), they will win. What I am trying to say is, this is a very, very important game for Wallace to play in. Wallace hasn’t played in over a week due to a hamstring injury he suffered vs. Cleveland. Also, Shelden Williams is questionable with a knee injury. Deron Williams will miss the game with a leg injury.
For more on this game, check out this article where Raphi explains why this is a must-win game for the Nets.
Sundiata Gaines vs. Baron Davis. Advantage: Neither
Both of these guys are deep on their respective teams’ depth charts. Sundiata is behind Jordan Farmar and Deron Williams, who will miss his second straight game with a leg injury. I’m just hoping Deron’s not out for the season. Davis is behind Jeremy Lin, who will miss at least the rest of the regular season. I’m glad Lin is out for a while because he is really the most overrated player in the NBA. I would rather have Gerald Green next season than Lin, but because Lin plays for the Knicks and because he is Asian, he is extremely popular. His stats don’t back it up at all. Davis is very old and may collapse at any moment. Sundiata is Sundiata. This will be a terrible matchup to watch, and hopefully neither pg will hold the ball for too long. With Sundiata, that is very unlikely.
Marshon Brooks vs. Iman Shumpert. Advantage: Neither
This is by far the most interesting matchup tonight. Both these guys were late first round picks in last year’s draft and they are both exceeding expectations. However, Marshon is more of an offensive player, while Shumpert is more of a defensive player. Marshon had the best statistical game of his career on Monday against Miami, but expect Shumpert to shut him down to some extent tonight. The reason that neither of these guys get the advantage is because they are both going to have bad games. Shumpert is good at defense, and will be able to stop Marshon from doing much, but he is not a good offensive player at all and won’t even be able to score against Marshon, a defensive liability. I am still looking forward to seeing these young players “battle”, as Coach Avery would say.
Gerald Green/Gerald Wallace/Deshawn Stevenson vs. Landry Fields. Advantage: ???
Landry Fields is yet another overrated Knick. He is averaging under 9 ppg and only 4 rpg. He may be a likable guy, but he is not a good NBA player. However, at this point, we have no idea who is going to start at small forward for the Nets. My instincts tell me that Gerald Wallace will miss another game tonight, but he is listed as questionable and could very well play. The Nets desperately need him for his defense. Gerald Green made his first start on Monday in place of Wallace. However, he got off to a bad start in that game and Coach Avery might want him coming off the bench instead. If Green starts, expect him to get into foul trouble quick. If Avery brings Green off the bench and Wallace can’t play, Deshawn will have to start. Deshawn is not the defensive player he was years ago, and I don’t think he can guard Anthony. If Wallace only plays one game the rest of the year, it should be tonight so that the Nets would have a chance to shock New York in preparation for their move to Brooklyn. This is definitely an important game for the franchise.
Kris Humphries vs. Carmelo Anthony. Advantage: Both
Even though these two guys will supposedly be playing power foward, Anthony is obviously not going to be playing the position. Amare Stoudemire is out, and that is why Carmelo was forced to move to power forward. Expect Carmelo to be guarded by Wallace/Green/Deshawn. Humphries will probably help out on Chandler or maybe even guard Landry Fields. The reason that both get the advantage is because both will most likely be the leading scorers on their respective teams. When the Knicks played Miami on Sunday, Carmelo Anthony had more points and field goal attempts than all other starters combined. When you have a player like that, it is not surprising that you lose the game. He is very selfish and expect him to chuck up a whole lot of shots tonight. The only player on the Knicks that can guard The Hump is Jared Jeffries, who, because of his offense, probably will not get too much playing time. Because of that, The Hump is going to have a huge game, maybe 25 and 15. Another note from this is that this will be Anthony’s first (and only) time playing in Newark since he was not traded to the Nets last season. Expect the small contingent of Nets fans at the game to boo Anthony during intros. I hate him because he ruined the seasons of the Nuggets, Nets, and even the Knicks last season, and he deserves to be booed. I think even Knicks fans would agree that the Anthony trade was a bad one for New York. Since that trade, the Knicks have been under .500 and are the 8th seed in the weaker eastern conference while the Nuggets are over .500 and are the 6th seed in the west.
Jordan/Shelden Williams/Johan Petro vs. Tyson Chandler. Advantage: Chandler
J-Will started the last game for the Nets, but played very badly. I think that Coach Avery will give him another shot tonight, but we will see. Shelden Williams is questionable in this game with a knee injury. All I have to say about Petro is that he better not start. Chandler, along with Shumpert, are the only Knicks who try on defense. However, because of the lack of a Nets center, he probably won’t even need to play good defense. He should get a few dunks in this game, especially whenever Petro’s in. Chandler may very well have a double-double.
My bold prediction is that, after a night when the Knicks made 19 3’s, they will make 8 or less tonight. They will also shoot the 3 at under 35%. As I said earlier, Gerald Wallace will be the X-factor for the Nets. If he plays, the Nets are going to win this game. If he doesn’t play, it will be much tougher for the Nets to get a victory. Even though the numbers tell me that the Knicks will win this game, I have to go with my very biased gut here. The Nets are going to win this game, 107-103, even with all their injuries. This is such a trap game for the Knicks, who are coming off of an emotional win, and their fans will leave Newark disappointed.