Brooklyn Nets: 3 Things to Watch in Final Preseason Game vs. New York Knicks

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2012

Brooklyn Nets: 3 Things to Watch in Final Preseason Game vs. New York Knicks

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    The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks have never played each other, but the matchup has already become one of the best rivalries in the NBA.

    The Nets and Knicks will square off for the first time since the Nets moved to Brooklyn on Wednesday night in what will be the last preseason game for both squads.

    You may not be buying into the rivalry just yet, but as the New York Post's Paul Schwartz tweets, others are.

    You want to go see the Knicks-Nets season opener in Brooklyn? You got $800 to spend per ticket? Read on: sulia.com/c/basketball/f…

    — Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) October 23, 2012

    With so many storylines to follow, here are three things to watch for Nets fans on Wednesday night.

Chippiness

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    The mud has certainly been slinging between these two franchises since the Nets announced their move to Brooklyn, and Wednesday night is the start of what most NBA fans are hoping becomes a great rivalry.

    From turf wars involving billboards to Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov calling the Knicks "the second team in New York," (h/t ESPN), the stage has been set for a solid battle, even if it is just a preseason game.

    Add in the fact that physical players like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler, Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace will all be featured, and you've got the recipe for a kosher matchup.

    Against the Washington Wizards, we saw D-Will rip opposing point guard A.J. Price for hacking his arm as Williams finished a layup, with Williams saying (via Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York):

    I hate when people just start talking for no reason. That's pretty much what he did. Maybe he had some boys in the crowd he wanted to impress while he can with the little minutes he's going to get this year. It's my home now. I told him that.

    You can expect a lot of chatter in this game and I wouldn't be surprised to see a few guys get T'd up.

MarShon Brooks' Role

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    MarShon Brooks was a rookie of the year candidate just a year ago, but with the acquisition of six-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson, Brooks' role is now in question.

    Brooks missed all of training camp and most of the preseason due to injury, and since his return, he has had a difficult time getting playing minutes in coach Avery Johnson's rotation. 

    When asked about the shooting guard's role as possibly the sixth man, Johnson told ESPN New York, "We're not sure yet. We're not going to box ourselves in." 

    Johnson's rotation of late has Joe Johnson running the second team from the SG spot, while Deron Williams and C.J. Watson have been spending a lot of time together in the backcourt.

    Brooks returned to action on Oct. 19 against the Boston Celtics, but has since played just 27 minutes in two preseason games against the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. With veteran Keith Bogans also on the roster, Brooks' role becomes all the more unclear after every preseason game.

    Wednesday night against the Knicks will be Brooks' last opportunity to prove his worth and solidify a spot in Coach Johnson's rotation.

Tyson Chandler vs. Brook Lopez

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    With questions swirling around Brooklyn's interior defense, Wednesday night's matchup in the paint presents an opportunity for Brook Lopez to establish his presence as a solid defender.

    It's no secret that Avery Johnson isn't happy with the way his team is defending and he made it known, according to Newsday's Roderick Boone.

    We haven't had the type of defensive intensity, physicality, that I'm looking for. This team does not have the personality that I thought it would have at this point. That's been somewhat of a disappointment. Are they trying? Yes. Is anybody panicking? No. But we should have a little bit more of a physicality.

    The Nets will see that physicality when Tyson Chandler does battle with Lopez on Wednesday night. Known for his tenacious defense and rim-attacking ability, Chandler will undoubtedly pose a threat to Brooklyn's inside defense, a trouble spot for the Nets.

    As seen this preseason, the Nets have allowed teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics dominate them on the inside, and Lopez is much to blame for that.

    Celtics play-by-play announcer Sean Grande pokes fun at Lopez's defensive abilities, tweeting:

    Another fun part of Brooklyn..now when Brook Lopez doesn’t defend, instead of benching him, Avery makes him walk to Junior’s for cheesecake.

    — Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) October 19, 2012

    This will be Lopez's last chance to bolster his interior defense before he sees Chandler and the Knicks again when the Nets open up the regular season at home against New York on Nov. 1.