In the second of three Big Apple rivalry games to be played this week, the Knicks (9-10) and Nets (5-13) will do battle at 7 p.m. Friday at the Garden. It will be the first of four meetings this season between the two clubs, who in 179 games all-time, are separated by just one win (90-89 Knicks). Here are three keys to game No. 180.
1 Nets hot,
Despite a slow start to the season in which the Nets were winless through their first seven games, the team from Brooklyn heads into Manhattan with confidence.
The Nets are riding their first two-game win streak of the year after defeating the Suns, 94-91, on Tuesday, while the Knicks will play in front of their home crowd reeling, having lost four of their last five games.
2 Battle of
Twin brothers Brook and Robin Lopez will be facing off for the first time as centers of the New York franchises, after signing a three-year, $60 million deal with the Nets and a four-year, $54 million deal with the Knicks, respectively.
The higher-paid Lopez has been earning his salary, averaging 20.1 points and a career-high 8.3 rebounds. Robin has been inconsistent in his first season in New York, averaging 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. The two 7-footers played with each other at Stanford before being selected in the first round in 2008.
With all the buzz surrounding the Knicks’ prized rookie Kristaps Porzingis, Friday will provide an opportunity for the Nets to prove they have an impressive rookie of their own. The 23rd overall pick in the draft out of Arizona, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been impressing for coach Lionel Hollins’ club over the last couple of weeks. Not known for his scoring, the guard has been averaging 7.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals over his last seven games.