The Nets continued their winning ways in a gritty win over the Orlando Magic. With five wins on the trot the team looks to make it six as their crosstown rivals head to Brooklyn. Here’s some keys to the game.
Point Guard Play
While the reports of Spencer Dinwiddie’s thumb injury have yet to be confirmed by the team it seems fait accompli that the dynamic guard while be out for an extended period.
“Shabazz, I know we’re gonna need him. I love [Napier]. I think he’s a darn good player. I didn’t give him enough minutes [Wednesday] night quite honestly. And I know he’s gonna help us down the line.”
The form of D’Angelo Russell should help offset the loss of Spencer. The timing couldn’t be worse though as the two fulcrums of the offense were really starting to gel as a duo.
New York have a plethora of young, talented guards that will be motivated to come in and upset the status quo in Brooklyn. The likes of Emmanuel Mudiay, Allonzo Trier and Frank Ntilikina (to a lesser extent) have all had outbursts this season that the Nets defense will need to be wary of.
Get Off To A Good Start
As is the case with most Nets/Knicks games at Barclays, the crowd is likely to be dominated by New York fans. It’s important that the Nets get off to a hot start. They’ve had great form at home and will need to continue that to solidify their chances at a playoff position.
The Nets average 1.4 points per quarter more (28.4) at home than they do on the road. Against Orlando they scored 26 points in the first and were even better against Sacramento with 29 points.
If the Nets are going to continue that form the buy in from the Brooklyn fans is going to be integral, as both Coach Kenny and D’Angelo Russell outlined.
Atkinson: “Yes I do [feel the crowd’s buzz]. That’s an honest feeling, a different vibe. Maybe these guys that have been here a little longer can get a better feel for that, but from my perspective I feel the momentum in the building.”
Russell: “We heard them. We’re gonna need those guys to keep bringing it every night.”
Lock In Defensively
The Knicks rank last in the league in field goal percentage this season. They have plenty of players, including the ones mentioned above as well as a guy like Tim Hardaway Jr. who can get hot at any point. The Nets have been much better offensively this season but they feed off the defensive energy and will need that engagement against a motivated New York squad.
A collective buy-in has been the major contributor to Brooklyn’s success on the defensive end. The resurgent form of Treveon Graham has certainly helped as well. Atkinson highlighted his job on Kings sharpshooter, Buddy Hield.
“Treveon’s been a big surprise. He’s another guy you can trust, trust on the defensive side of the floor. I thought T.G.’s job on Buddy Hield was fantastic. I don’t think he scored in the second half. He was a real concern for us but great job on him and great defensive performance.”
If the Knicks found one of their gunners getting hot then they have a ready-made stopper to curtail his production.