Good morning! It's Martin Luther King Day, a holiday on which we celebrate the life of the man who invented the weekday matinee*. The Knicks and Nets will tip off their final meeting of the regular season at 3:30. It feels like MLK Day matinees always result in crazy endings, and the course of the Knicks-Nets series thus far definitely portends such an outcome.
While the Knicks have been traveling, resting, and licking their wounds after a bit of a slump, the Nets have gained a bunch of ground under P.J. Carlesimo. Brooklyn's just two games back of the Knicks in the Atlantic Division, so a win for New York today would not only secure the season series but build a little cushion on their division lead. (And, ya know, the converse: A loss would mean a tied season series and a precarious one-game lead).
The Knicks, unfortunately, will not have Raymond Felton back in time for today's game. Felton's played terribly against the sagging Nets defense this season, but guys like Tyson Chandler-- who absolutely dominated in the last match-up-- rely heavily on Felton for offense. We'll see how Jason Kidd fares in what should hopefully be one of his last starts at point guard. Kidd'll have some help, of course, in the form of Iman Shumpert making his season debut at MSG. Shump will still see limited minutes as a starter/defender of Joe Johnson, though probably more than the 15 he played in London (and he'd happily play the whole thing). I can't WAIT to see him step on the Garden floor in uniform for the first time since April.
So, as has seemingly been the case each time these teams have faced, today's match-up won't really resemble the previous three. Deron Williams and the Nets are almost fully healthy and playing some of their best ball under a new coach while the Knicks come in well-rested and full of Shump, but still shorthanded otherwise. I expect a close, stomach-turning game. May the Knicks find a way to triumph.
I've got some driving to do, but I'll see y'all before game time. <3