Brooklyn Nets: Knicks matchup is a good litmus test for the offense

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 1: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 1: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets will renew one of the league’s more up-and-coming rivalries again on Monday night in a tussle with the crosstown New York Knicks, who are playing some excellent basketball for the first time in years.

Not only are the Knicks building around a young core of Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley, but Tom Thibodeau has helped them become the league’s best defense in terms of points allowed per game this season.

Even though the Nets have won 12 of their last 13 games, the upset potential in this game is very real. The Knicks have proven that they can take down some of the best teams in the league by grinding them down with stellar defensive play.

While a regular season game against a fringe playoff team might not tell us a whole lot, this contest could reveal just how good these Nets can be without Kevin Durant bailing them out.

The Brooklyn Nets will be in for a dogfight against the Knicks.

KD will likely be out another week due to his hamstring injury, meaning the dynamic duo of Kyrie Irving and James Harden will be at it again. Both stars are averaging over 24 points per game, with Harden’s triple-double pace actually exceeding what Jason Kidd was able to do in New Jersey.

The Knicks’ defense is buoyed by tremendous individual role players like rim protector Nerlens Noel as well as Thibodeau’s emphasis on fundamental basketball. They also boast one of the best perimeter defenses in the NBA. Brooklyn knows that with or without Durant, they might not see a defense like this all year in the East.

The Nets will likely choose to stay out of the paint on Monday because DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton might actually have some difficulty against Noel. This is will be a true test of skill for Irving and Harden. The Knicks know how they’re going to attack them. If they can still succeed without Durant in the lineup, that’s no small feat.

While the nonstop, borderline nauseating “Who owns New York?” debate will circle over this game, the matchup on the court is one of the best stylistic showdowns of the year. The league’s best offense and best defense will lock horns with both teams getting arguably the toughest test for their biggest strength all year.

Next. Blake Griffin and Nic Claxton need to coexist. dark