This season has been all about establishing an identity and home dominance, but there’s also another element the Knicks will need to tap into on the road to elite status, and that’s revenge.
Like Denzel Washington so famously said in Man on Fire, “revenge is a dish best served cold” and with contests still remaining with four of the five teams who have defeated the Knicks, the opportunity for revenge is plentiful. On December 17th the Houston Rockets will visit the Garden giving the Knicks a chance to erase memories of that 30 point blowout loss. Only four days later the Chicago Bulls come to town after narrowly beating a Melo-less Knicks squad 93-85 in Chicago. In all fairness the Bulls have been without Derrick Rose all season so another loss to them is not acceptable, especially in New York. Then we have the heavyweight rematch March 27th against the Memphis Grizzlies who defeated the Knicks 105-95 in probably the most physical game of the season. It’s a game the Knicks have already openly discussed as looking forward to and could easily be a NBA Finals preview.
But up first is the Brooklyn Nets, who were victorious in the first game ever played between the Nets and Knicks at the Barclays Center, November 26th, 96-89, in OT. The nationally televised game, which was billed as the Battle of New York City, was played with a playoff like intensity right from the start. Although the Knicks were without Jason Kidd, they still lead by three late in the fourth after a Tyson Chandler basket. Unfortunately, the Nets rallied to force OT where they took it to the Knicks who had clearly run out of gas and secured their biggest win of the season. It was fitting that this game went to overtime because it set the tone for what can evolve into a tremendous rivalry.
Now the Knicks find themselves back at the Barclay’s Center for Rd 2 and a chance to serve some revenge. Unlike the first game, the Knicks will need to shoot better than 29% from downtown and keep the Nets bench, led by Jerry Stackhouse and Reggie Evans under control. During the Nov 26th contest, Brooklyn’s bench outscored New York’s 30-13, with Evans grabbing 14 rebounds and Stackhouse hitting four 3-pointers off the bench. Gerald Wallace’s harassing defense was another huge factor, but the biggest factor for the Nets that night was center, Brook Lopez, who had 22pts, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. Brook is unavailable for tonight’s game; that could spell doom for the Nets and sweet revenge for the Knickerbockers!
Players may say it’s “just another game” but Knicks-Nets will never be “just another game”. It will always be a game that determines supremacy and which team, regardless of record, gets to wear the crown as the best basketball team in New York. If you don’t think that matters, just ask the Yankees or Mets, it does!