Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony have carried the Knicks to the top of the East
After watching the past two matchups between these two squads, I would forgive you if you confused them for a couple of playoff games.
The players on each squad may not admit it, but the intensity of their two meetings this season say otherwise. This is the hottest rivalry in the New York Metropolitan area, and may be the hottest in the NBA.
The first matchup was rescheduled for Monday, November 27th after Hurricane Sandy canceled the potential season-opening matchup. The Knicks, minus Jason Kidd, fell to the Nets in overtime after having a late lead. Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez and his 22 points and 11 rebounds.
This time it was the Nets, minus Lopez, who blew a 17-point lead, and the Knicks came back to stun them. The Knicks were led by MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony's 45 points and the game-winning three pointer by the man who led the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA Finals, Jason Kidd.
Kidd, who finally won his championship with the Dallas Mavericks two years ago, looks as if he could be a big piece in the quest to bring the city of New York its first basketball championship in 40 years.
However, the road will not be easy because the new-look Nets, in a new home with a new image, look as if they came to play. They are ready to challenge the Knicks for the dominance of the city and look to stake their claim among all those competing for the championship.
The Knicks spent their offseason trying to find pieces to add to compete with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. The Nets successfully retained point guard Deron Williams and put a supporting cast around him, unleashing their new identity. Now they're looking to accomplish more.
The Nets clearly have established an aura in the city, particularly in the Republic of Brooklyn, which has been missing a sports franchise since the Dodgers left 55 years ago. You can certainly see the Nets' new black and white image all over the city, and many natives have embraced them.
Still, the Knicks are already far ahead of the Nets as of right now. They have already flattened the reigning champions twice by 20 this season while the Nets have gotten embarrassed by the Heat twice down in South Beach. Clearly, the Knicks are in the lead in this regard.
Both teams, of course, have plenty of room to improve in this marathon of a season.
The Knicks are still without Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, who respectively add a huge offensive and defensive game to this Knicks roster. Stoudemire is projected to return on Christmas Day in Los Angeles. Shumpert looks to come back around the new calendar year or after. When they return, New York could end up having one of the best benches in the NBA.
The Nets have been missing Brook Lopez for the past few games, which has caused the team to slump. Deron Williams, plagued by injuries, has been shooting under 40 percent since arriving with the Nets, but he's still one of the best point guards in the Association. Their bench has been stellar, and Joe Johnson has started to come around recently.
Both teams are headed for the playoffs and could end up meeting sometime there, setting up the most intense crosstown matchup since the Subway Series of 2000 between the Mets and Yankees.
But in the city of New York? The Knicks still run this town, and the Nets will have to try very hard to win the people over. They've already done so in Kings County, but Knick Nation made their presence known in each battle there this season.
The Knickerbockers are clearly number one in the city that never sleeps and in the East, and that isn't changing anytime soon. The Nets still have a ways to go, but they are indeed here and we have got a rivalry brewing in the Big Apple.