The first thing I would like to say to New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans respectively, is that it isn’t time to panic. However, if the two teams that play in New York City continue to struggle, the 2013-2014 NBA campaign that offered so much promise will be lost before the end of the year.
The New York Knicks, at 3-6, have lost five straight games at the World’s Most Famous Arena, and lost their sixth overall on Saturday to the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. By contrast, the Knicks didn’t lose their sixth game of the season until December 17 a year ago, and didn’t lose their fifth home game until January 11 of this year. It doesn’t get better, as the Knicks will try to break their five-game home losing streak against the team they lost to in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Indiana Pacers, who are 9-1. The Knicks should be ready for the Pacers, but Indiana should be ready as well.
The injury of Tyson Chandler has left the defense of the Knicks very vulnerable, and there isn’t anyone who can remotely fill in for the former Defensive Player of the Year on the roster. Andrea Bargnani, the jump-shooting center who was acquired in the offseason from the Toronto Raptors, has played well on the offensive end in the absence of Chandler, but isn’t a great rebounder. Consequently, the Knicks rank 29th in the NBA in rebounding, and that is heading south. The Knicks have five of their next six games on the road, which, ironically, is where they’ve played the better basketball this season.
Over in Brooklyn, the Nets are 3-7, and are struggling with injuries as well. Both Deron Williams and Brook Lopez have missed the last two games, and the injuries, particularly to Lopez, are reasons to be alarmed. Lopez has an ankle injury, and for a center who has raised his level of play since the Nets moved to Brooklyn, his health is crucial to the success of the team. As of print time, there was no timetable for Lopez’s return.
Williams also has an ankle injury, which kept him from playing in the preseason save one game. I believe Williams is the most valuable Nets player, and he is the engine that needs to fuel this team if they are going to be successful. Let’s hope that Coach Kidd gets his stars back soon.
After returning from a road trip in which they went 1-2, (a win against the Phoenix Suns and losses versus the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers) Brooklyn lost their second game at Barclays Center this season to the surprising Portland Trailblazers, who have the third-best record in the NBA at 9-2. Brooklyn has struggled on the road, with a record of 1-5, and square off against the Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves away from Brooklyn this week. I know the season is early and must-win games don’t happen in November, but could the Nets recover from a 3-9 start?
A season of promise still offers plenty for both the Knicks and Nets, especially because no team in the Atlantic Division is over .500. The division title that the Knicks won last year is certainly still attainable this season, but the Nets have the same goal as well and only one team can win the division title. Unfortunately, if both teams continue to struggle and play sub- .500, the division title will be a distant memory for the Knicks and Nets.