The Brooklyn Nets will welcome the New York Knicks to the Barclays Center for their first matchup of the season, a makeup game for the opening night postponement on November 1st due to Hurricane Sandy.
The Knicks, meanwhile, have cooled off a bit since their hot start, but sit pretty near the top of the Eastern Conference at 9-3. They lost two of their past three, but got a nice little visit from the Detroit Pistons for a dominant 121-100 win Sunday night.
Time: 7:00 P.M. EST
Records: New York (9-3), Brooklyn (8-4)
Key Storyline: The Beginning of the War
This will be the first of many big games between the Knicks and Nets in the coming weeks, months and years, and it's just the beginning of what is going to become the war for New York.
New York holds the Atlantic Division lead, just a half a game up on Brooklyn. That means the winner of this one is going to end up with the outright division lead. As far as early-season games go, this one is pretty big.
Besides bragging rights and the right to call themselves the team who won the first battle between Brooklyn and Manhattan, this could go a long way in winning the season series and potentially grabbing a tiebreaker over the other.
Key Matchup: Brook Lopez vs. Tyson Chandler
The Knicks have a distinct advantage in the matchup between their best players, but if the Nets are able to take advantage of Brook Lopez's offensive prowess in the paint, this could be an interesting matchup.
Obviously, this matchup is only going to be relevant on one end of the floor, as Tyson Chandler isn't a high-powered scorer and Lopez isn't a high-powered defender. Basically, we're going to be on the lookout for Chandler's defense against Lopez's offense.
Lopez is shooting at a nice clip, just above 55 percent for the season and making it to the line at a decent rate. Brooklyn is going to look to feed him as much as possible, so long as Chandler isn't having one of his decisively dominant nights.
Of course, there's a chance that Chandler is able to get the upper hand on offense, and as long as he's keen on overpowering Lopez, New York might find themselves with the rare opportunity to take advantage of Chandler offensively.
X-Factors Gerald Wallace and J.R. Smith
If the Nets are smart, their best perimeter defender is going to have an eye on Carmelo Anthony for the duration of this one. New York is going to trot out Anthony at the power forward spot, but Kris Humphries is fleet of foot enough to do a little perimeter work for the Nets.
Carmelo has taken advantage of defenses who have thrown power forwards at him all year long—meaning he's able to overpower the smaller ones with his deceptive strength, while outworking and outrunning the bigger ones with his skill and speed.
If Wallace can keep up with Anthony and do enough to slow him down, Brooklyn is going to have a pretty good shot at winning this one.
After starting out hot for the Knicks, J.R. Smith has fallen back to Earth a bit, making just five of his past 19 three-pointers since New York's first loss of the season to the Memphis Grizzlies.
That said, Smith is still a good contributor to his team without his three-point shot falling like rain in a monsoon. His attitude has changed to the point where he's no longer the lazy defender that he has been criticized for being in the past. He's active and doing a much better job in the passing lane.
Smith is also usually much more alert in knowing when his shot isn't falling, and when it's not, he tends to back off and defer to his teammates.
If his shots are falling, New York has an obvious additional weapon. If not, he's still going to do his best to make his presence felt.
The New York Knicks are reeling a bit after losing three of their past six games, but those losses did come against some of the league's better teams. (Well, one of them came against the Grizzlies; the others came to Dallas and Houston on the road.)
Brooklyn, meanwhile, has done quite a bit to make us think that their struggles from the beginning of the season were due, in part, to their team's ongoing jelling process. They've earned two nice wins in a row over the Clippers and Trail Blazers, so there's reason to believe they can beat New York.
However, the Knicks' advantages outweigh Brooklyn's, and Chandler is going to be able to dominate Lopez down low.
New York 109, Brooklyn 101