On Friday night, the New York Knicks (28-39) allowed yet another game to slip through their fingers, losing 118-114 to the Grizzlies. Blown leads are the hallmark of their 76th campaign, and this time the Knicks surrendered a late third-quarter, 15-point advantage. The loss was especially disappointing because New York looked very capable of beating the league’s second-ranked team. Defying expectations, they have gone 3-3 on a cross-country road trip that ends today at the Barclays Center.
Like the Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets (34-33) started the season with high hopes. Prognosticators picked the Former Jerseyites to be NBA champions, but drama and injuries have hampered those plans. Currently, the Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference, have the 13th-highest offense and 21st defense.
Brooklyn beat the Knicks in February 111-106, a game in which New York—you guessed it—blew a 28-point lead. For the Nets, Seth Curry shot 67% from deep and scored 20 points. Julius Randle collected 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks.
Revenge is ours! Tip-off’s at 1:00 p.m.
Filling in for Kyrie Irving, 35-year old Goran Dragić (6’3”, 190 lbs) has averaged 6.8 points, 4.8 assists, and three rebounds in 23 minutes per game over his last five. He will face Alec Burks, who put up 18 points and added six rebounds and five assists versus the Grizzlies.
In his eighth year, Seth Curry (6’2”, 185 lbs) is averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. The 31-year old is shooting 49% from the field and 41% from deep. His counterpart, Evan Fournier has averaged 14.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in about 30 minutes per game.
Bruce Brown (6’4”, 202 lbs) is playing his fourth season, his second with Brooklyn. The 25-year old has averaged 7.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in about 23 minutes per outing. He’s a defensive disruptor with a 110.7 d-rating.
For the Knicks, RJ Barrett missed the last Brooklyn game due to a sprained ankle. The young Canadian has been solid as a rock for the Knicks, but his shooting efficiency leaves something to be desired: 39% from the field, 25% from three over the last five games.
Nets fans were loud in the barc….I mean the garden tonight— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) February 17, 2022
Durant leads the Nets in minutes per game (36.5), points per game (29), assists (5.8), and is second in rebounds with 7.4. In his 14th year, Durant is shooing 38% from deep, 52% from the field, and has a player efficiency rating of 25.5 (fifth in the league). He’ll lock horns with Julius Randle, who has averaged 16.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists over 13 games against KD.
Andre Drummond (6’10”, 279 lbs) is Brooklyn’s rebounding leader, with 9.2 boards per outing. Over his last five games, the 28-year old UConn alum has averaged 8.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes. Historically, Drummond has gotten the better of Mitchell Robinson and in February’s game, the cajun recorded a paltry two points and seven boards in 23 minutes. Mitch has been on a tear since then, however, so don’t be surprised by different results tonight.
This is the third of four meetings between the clubs, and the Nets lead the season series 2-0. Since January 1, the Nets are 11-23, and the Knicks are 11-20—not much of a difference. Recently, New York has played more consistently competitive basketball, or longer stretches of it, at least. By my count, they are 3-7 in early games this year, but they will pull it together for today’s matinee. Prediction: Knicks by 7.
Brooklyn. Sunday. 1 p.m. Excelsior, Knicks!