After a strong 5-3 start to the season, New York has dropped three in a row to fall below the .500-mark. On the other hand, Brooklyn has also stumbled its way to a 5-6 overall record through their first 11 games. The Nets have already been forced to deal with injuries, COVID-19 protocols, and an early-season absence to one of their biggest stars. Brooklyn will be playing this game on the second night of a back-to-back set after taking on the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday,
Can Brooklyn get back on track against the reeling Knicks on Wednesday night?
Knicks push losing streak to three gamesNew York couldn’t overcome an off-shooting night on Monday, falling short 109-88 on the road against the Charlotte Hornets. Kevin Knox came off of the bench to score a team-high 19 points while all five starters scored in double-figures in the loss. New York shot just 39.1 percent from the field and 9-of-37 from beyond the arc (24.3 percent) en route to its third straight defeat.
In typical Tom Thibodeau fashion, the Knicks are leaning heavily on their starters to open the season. Known for riding his star players and piling up minutes totals, Thibodeau seems to be at it once again in his latest stop in New York. In a league where reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing just 31 minutes per night to stay fresh, the Knicks have not been shy about giving their stars all the minutes that they can handle. Second-year small forward R.J. Barrett leads the NBA in minutes played at 37.9 minutes per night and Julius Randle isn’t far behind, averaging 37.1 minutes per game, which ranks fifth in the NBA. That could prove to be problematic, especially in a shortened 72-game season.
New York enters Wednesday’s matchup ranked seventh in the league in adjusted defensive efficiency with a 107.7 rating. However, the Knicks have slid to 25th in adjusted net rating (25th in the NBA) and 29th in the NBA with a 103.7 offensive rating.
Nets remain without IrvingKevin Durant returned from a four-game absence on Sunday to finish with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists in a 129-116 loss at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Caris Levert chipped in 21 points while Jarrett Allen finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who shot just 29.4 percent from 3-point range and committed 17 turnovers in the loss.
Rui on an island adventure with Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/hrrQSCsjcD— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 3, 2021
Nets head coach doesn’t expect point guard Kyrie Irving to be back with the team for Wednesday’s matchup at Madison Square Garden. According to Malika Andrews of ESPN, Nash does not have a timeline for Irving’s return. The All-Star point guard has missed three straight games due to personal reasons and is not expected to return for Brooklyn’s next game against the Nuggets on Tuesday.
Despite numerous injuries and an unsightly 5-6 overall record, the Nets still rank among the best teams in the NBA to start the season. According to dunksandthrees.com, the Nets rank third in the NBA with an adjusted net rating of +6.0. Brooklyn also ranks in the top-10 on both ends of the floor, sporting an adjusted offensive rating of 114.1 (7th in the NBA) and an adjusted defensive rating of 108.1 (8th in the NBA).