New York Knicks Preview: Keys To Defeating The Brooklyn Nets

The New York Knicks will resume a rivalry on Wednesday, November 9. What must New York do to overcome the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden?


Oct 20, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker (35) defends against New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Brooklyn Nets made the move from New Jersey, the hype has been that a rivalry is on the horizon. The New York Knicks have long ruled the five boroughs, even when Julius Erving and the New York Nets were dominating the ABA.

On Wednesday, November 9, the Battle for New York will resume as the Knicks host the Nets at Madison Square Garden.

New York enters this clash with a 2-4 record and room for improvement. It blew a fourth quarter lead during its home loss to the Utah Jazz and trailed by just one point in the fourth quarter during a 102-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

The hope is the Jeff Hornacek and the Knicks will be able to turn things around against the shorthanded 2-4 Nets.

Brooklyn will enter this game without starting point guard Jeremy Lin, who’s sidelined by a strained left hamstring. The Nets have the same record as the Knicks, however, as head coach Kenny Atkinson has already begun to work his magic.

The question is: what must the New York Knicks do to secure the first win in this season’s series against the Brooklyn Nets?

Oct 8, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) shoots over Brooklyn Nets guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) shoots over Brooklyn Nets guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

5. The Second Unit

The New York Knicks hold a clear talent advantage over the Brooklyn Nets as far as the starting lineups are concerned. That should give New York an opportunity to secure a necessary victory over the division rivals.

What’s been plaguing the Knicks throughout the first six games of the 2016-17 campaign, however, is a lackluster second unit.

Brandon Jennings has played well as a scorer and facilitator, although he’s yet to truly establish himself in either regard. Beyond Jennings is a cast of reserves who have the talent, but haven’t yet found their rhythm.

The likes of Justin Holiday, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Kyle O’Quinn, and Lance Thomas will need to step up against a Nets team that may not have star power, but certainly has depth.

Brooklyn’s roster is flush with quality players who can make a collectively strong impact. The Knicks’ starters should control the pace of this game, but the reserves need to show signs of life against the Nets.

This game could be the perfect opportunity for Jeff Hornacek’s second unit to finally find its form in 2016-17.

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) looks to pass the ball against Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) and forward Spencer Hawes (00) in the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

4. Contain Brook Lopez

The Brooklyn Nets have one of the most under-appreciated players in the NBA in All-Star center Brook Lopez. His hype has withered away as Brooklyn’s roster has fallen to pieces, but he remains productive, reliable, and borderline unstoppable on offense.

With Jeremy Lin sidelined by an injury, the New York Knicks must be able to hold Lopez in check on Wednesday.

One of the lost arts from the previous era of NBA basketball appears to be intentionally getting big men in foul trouble. It still happens, of course, but it’s become less a matter of strategy and more about circumstance.

The best way for the Knicks to contain the Nets’ offense would be to get Lopez into foul trouble and off of the court.

Lopez boasts a career average of 18.3 points on 51.1 percent shooting from the field and 79.2 percent shooting from the free throw line. He’s averaging 19.4 points per game in 2016-17 and went off for 34 points against Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons.

The Knicks can’t let the Nets get going from beyond the arc, but containing Lopez would go a long way towards shutting Brooklyn’s offense down.

Oct 8, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) drives to the basket defended by Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) drives to the basket defended by Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

3. Guard Play

As previously alluded to, the Brooklyn Nets will be without starting point guard Jeremy Lin, who’s nursing a strained left hamstring. Brooklyn could also be without backup point guard Greivis Vasquez, who has missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

The best case scenario for Brooklyn is that a hobbled Vasquez will play and the worst case scenario is that it’ll be forced to face the facts: there isn’t another point guard on the roster.

The Nets started rookie Isaiah Whitehead, a shooting guard who can handle the rock and facilitate, against the Charlotte Hornets. Joe Harris and Sean Kilpatrick also saw big minutes, and Randy Foye should be ready for the clash with the Knicks.

None of those players are genuine point guards, however, and none have the defensive prowess to remain in front of Derrick Rose or Brandon Jennings.

Kilpatrick is a player who cannot be underestimated, but Rose, Jennings, and Courtney Lee are the three best guards in this game. In order for the Knicks to defeat the Brooklyn Nets, they and Justin Holiday must exploit this positional advantage.

Brooklyn is very strong down low, but New York can win comfortably if it takes advantage of a rather significant perimeter edge.

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA;New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) goes to the basket as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) and guard Ish Smith (14) defend during the fourth quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

2. Ball Movement

As previously alluded to, the New York Knicks have a clear talent advantage over the Brooklyn Nets at point guard. Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings will be going up against a Nets team that could be without its starting and backup point guards.

Regardless of who plays for the Nets, the Knicks cannot afford to fall into the isolation tendencies that have plagued the offense in almost every fourth quarter through six games.

Rose and Jennings are both gifted passers whose respective court vision appear to have improved under head coach Jeff Hornacek. Both are still showing signs of inconsistency in their willingness to facilitate, however, and that issue cannot be overstated.

Fortunately for the Knicks, the past two games have been the best of Rose’s tenure with the organization thus far.

Rose finished with 15 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds against the Chicago Bulls—a game during which Jennings added seven assists of his own. The next time out, Rose tallied 18 points and eight assists against the Utah Jazz.

Simply put: the Knicks are 2-0 when they dish out at least 20 assists and 0-4 when they fail to. Enough said.

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn (9) high fives guard Brandon Jennings (3) and center Joakim Noah (13) during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

1. Defense, Defense, Defense

The New York Knicks are currently the worst defensive team in the NBA. New York checks in at No. 26 in scoring defense and opponent field goal percentage, and is dead last in points allowed per 100 possessions.

The Brooklyn Nets aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, but any assumption that the Knicks will shut an opponent down would be unfounded.

The Knicks have allowed all six of their opponents to score at least 100 points in 2016-17. Three of those six teams have scored at least 110 points, including the 118 points the Houston Rockets scored at Madison Square Garden.

Though most attention has gone to the offense, New York is 2-1 when it holds opponents below 110 points and 0-3 when it fails to.

New York has the personnel to play Top10 defense with the likes of Justin Holiday, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, Kristaps Porzingis, and Lance Thomas. The results matter more than the hypotheticals, however, and the results haven’t been in the Knicks’ favor.

The Knicks need to finally step up on defense against the Brooklyn Nets.

With back-to-back road games against the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors looming, New York needs to defeat Brooklyn and build momentum.

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