Brooklyn Nets (3-4) @Knicks (2-4)
Madison Square Garden – November 9th @ 7:00pm ET (AUS – 11:00am Thurs 10th)
The Nets starting five could very well be the worst in the league on paper, but one thing this team has is heart. With three wins against the Pacers, Wolves and Detroit, the Nets have proven early on they shouldn’t be considered ‘easy beats’. Lin is out two weeks with a sprained hamstring leaving Isaiah Whitehead leading point, Nets fans must hope Rose doesn’t take the rookie to school. Bogdanovic is going to have to bear the brunt of the offence with Lopez but will have a tough time getting his long game going with Lee guarding him. RHJ has been struggling offensively (28%FG), so his role is to limit Melo’s game. Booker will struggle to contain the longer, taller, more skilled Porzi but his grit and tenacity may bother the young Latvian. Lopez is key, if he can get dialed in early (4/8 from deep) he may be more than a hassle for Noah.
New York’s starting 5 haven’t been the problem lately. Win or lose, the Knicks starters have largely been on the right side of the +/- battle. It’s likely this continues against the Nets with the upper hand at almost every position. I am looking for Noah to nullify Lopez down low and the Knicks to take advantage of potential mismatches in the other front court spots. Although a willing defender, Melo should have enough tricks in the bag for RHJ and Porzingis looks to have a sizeable advantage if he is Booker’s responsibility. Lee shouldn’t be looking for his shot but instead ensuring Bogdanovic stays quiet. Speaking of staying quiet, I’m not ready to give Rose any attention just yet.
Key Bench Guys:
With Lin and Foye out and Whitehead struggling to run the point, the Nets needed someone to step up and help share the burden on offence with Lopez and Bogdanovic. Kilpatrick was their man, now averaging 17 points per game on 41% from deep. Kilpatrick was initially being used as a backup PG after Lin went down, but he is much better utilized as a SG with Foye running the point. Look at Kilpatrick to hurt the Knicks second unit from the outside to provide a genuine outlet for Lopez when he is doubled.
As mentioned above (and in my off season take), the Knicks problems mostly lie on the bench. Jennings is the only non-starter receiving major minutes off the bench six games in. The Nets don’t have a strong secondary PG even before their current health concerns, so Jennings will be leading the line against a lineup perhaps more suited to the D-League than the Madison Square Garden floor. Jennings needs to use this game to turn the bench issues around. He can start by attacking the paint and trying to get his struggling second unit teammates involved.
- BKN: Whilst not a PG himself, Foye should certainly help take over ball handling responsibilities from Kilpatrick and Whitehead. Whitehead is averaging 66 points per 100 possessions so at this stage any player is an upgrade. Look for better spacing and movement with Foye at the point.
- NYK: I don’t want to get too repetitive here but I can’t stress enough how much this game comes down to the bench. The Knicks starters should easily account for their opposing numbers but it is up to the bench to at least hold ground at a minimum. Ideally they can go one better and allow the starting 5 to play reduced minutes in this one.
- BKN: After facing Charlotte, Head Coach Kenny Atkinson admitted they had to find more effective ways to get Lopez better looks and outlets. Whitehead and Kilpatrick are still learning their big man spots and Bogdanvic needs to become more reliable as a 3pt shooter (he has the second highest 3pt % on the team at 33%).
- NYK: Although his minutes are relatively consistent, coach Hornacek has been very inconsistent with Kristaps’ touches thus far. His usage is down on last year (-3.6% on last year) but I would hope the Knicks guards feed the Unicorn in this matchup. There are a lot of mouths to feed within this Knicks starting 5 but it’s games like this where it would be a good idea to keep Porzingis happy.