It’s been a long time coming, but there are less than 2 weeks to go for the return of sports to Brooklyn. The cross-town rival Knicks are coming to the new Barclays Center on Thursday, November 1, 2012, to battle the newly minted Brooklyn Nets. So who will win this Big Apple Brawl? Let’s take a closer look at the starting lineups:
|New York Knicks||Brooklyn Nets|
|Raymond Felton, PG||Deron Williams, PG|
|J.R. Smith, SG||Joe Johnson, SG|
|Carmelo Anthony, SF||Gerald Wallace, SF|
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF||Kris Humphries, PF|
|Tyson Chandler, C||Brook Lopez, C|
At least on paper, this Brooklyn Nets lineup looks loaded. Starting at the top, the Nets have the edge at PG. Deron Williams is one of the top point guards in the NBA, and probably the top point guard in the Eastern Conference at the moment with Derrick Rose out for the first half of the season. Raymond Felton is decent, but the Nets definitely have the edge here and are certainly happy Williams decided to remain a Net in the offseason. The Nets also have the edge at SG. Joe Johnson was the biggest splash in the offseason for the Nets besides the re-signing of Williams. The all-star shooting guard should provide the Nets with some much-needed shooting and scoring firepower. While J.R. Smith has shown a propensity for scoring outbursts, he has been most effective as a sixth man.
The Knicks certainly have the edge at SF, although not by as much as may appear at first. While Melo is a superior offensive player to Gerald Wallace, Wallace is no slouch. He is an all-around solid player and former all-star, one of the best defenders in the game. He’ll have his hands full with Melo. The Knicks also hold an advantage at the PF spot, as Amar’e Stoudemire is a talented and mercurial offensive player, although he has shown a reluctance to use his 7-foot frame to play consistent defense. Humphries is the prototypical garbage player, grabbing rebounds and cleaning up on the offensive and defensive glass. The former Kim Kardashian spousal casualty rarely goes off for 20-point games, but the Nets will take his double-double work on the inside.
Finally, let’s take a look at the men in the middle. Now this is where not just this first all-New York showdown, but the entire Nets season hinges on. Is Brook Lopez back to his all-star caliber form after an injury-marred 2011-2012 season? If he is, he definitely has the edge over Chandler on offense. Defense though is a different story. Tyson Chandler is a former defensive player of the year, and has a ring to show for it from Dallas. This matchup may be a toss-up, but I’ll give the slight edge to Lopez. Just because of his hair.
The Knicks and the Nets should both make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. The past two seasons have seen the Chicago Bulls lead the way in the regular season, although Derrick Rose’s absence until after the all-star break makes that unlikely this season. The other teams who will most likely make it out of the East: Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Atlanta Hawks. This isn’t set in stone, after all, I’m not the Long Island Medium. Anyway, New York sports fans, spoiled by the Yankees (although not this year) and Giants, and frustrated by the Mets and Jets, now have a duo of contenders to root for in the NBA. While the Knicks are cursed by owner James Dolan, who shipped out Jeremy Lin to the Rockets even after Lin made the Knicks the hottest ticket in the NBA last year, the Nets have a Russian billionaire owner who isn’t going to let a few million bucks make him lose a good player.
You think this Brooklyn Nets team is loaded now? Wait until LeBron James opts out of his Miami Heat contract in 2014, heads to the Lakers, and Dwight Howard says “Hello Brooklyn!” I haven’t been this excited for the NBA season in years. Where Brooklyn at??!!!