Battle Of The Boroughs- Knicks vs. Nets Preview

image via barclayscenter.com

The New York Knicks will be playing at their home away from home tonight at the Barclays Center where they will be taking on the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30pm Eastern Time. The Nets are listed as 8.5 point favorites coming into this battle of the boroughs.

The Starting Lineups

The Brooklyn Nets will almost certainly be running out the same starting lineup as they did opening night in Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Taurean Prince, and Jarrett Allen. The Knicks starting lineup likely will consist of Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. Kyrie Irving against any guard on this team scares me and that is a matchup we certainly will lose all night. However, if Payton can just contain him on offense and hold him to 30-35 or less points, yes hold him to that, that would be a win for the Knicks. Unlike the Knicks previous matchup against Dejounte Murray, Kyrie Irving isn’t a superstar defender and that should help the Knicks guards get the Knicks offense into sync early in the shot clock and more consistently. Kyrie is a theft and can pick guards pockets well though, so the Knicks guards will need to be aware of his sleight of hand and not offer up turnovers that would allow for him to get easy buckets in transition. Other than this matchup, I think the Knicks win or push the other four matchups! Caris LeVert is a really solid shooter and a sound all around player, but RJ has proven that he can play with the best. Barrett certainly will hold his own in this matchup, making this battle at the shooting guard position a push. Morris and Randle should both easily win their matchups though, no contest. Morris will have a 2 inch and 15 pound advantage on the Nets’ sharpshooter Joe Harris. Harris will have a really tough time scoring on Morris as long as Marcus gets through off-ball screens and doesn’t get caught following the ball instead of Harris. On the offensive end, Morris is going to have himself a night! I expect an easy 25+ points for him if he’s matched up against the smaller Harris. Morris has a massive repertoire with isolations, mid range post ups, backdowns in the post, and the three ball, all of which will be on display tonight. Julius Randle should have his way on the smaller Prince, although Taurean is a gritty defender that stands at 6’7” with long arms and the ability to contest shots. Prince’s downside on defense in this matchup comes from Randle being 30+ pounds heavier than him! Randle will have some issues following the quicker Prince on defense, but he hopefully will have the help of Mitchell Robinson to erase shots in the paint tonight if he gets beat off the dribble. Robinson missed the Knicks opener with an ankle injury, but it has been suggested in reports that he is likely to play tonight. The Knicks have not announced if he is in or out yet. A matchup of Allen against Robinson would have little value on offense excluding screens and offensive rebounds with the occasional lob. Both will be relied on heavily to protect their team’s paint and clean the glass on defense though. I would consider this matchup a push as well.

Matchup Of The Night

Kyrie Irving vs. Elfrid Payton is going to decide who wins this game. Of course Kyrie will win this matchup, but Elf needs to give the Knicks a chance. He needs to force Kyrie to hit tough shots and not let him just cruise to the rim or get open threes. It also will be crucial for Payton to push the ball and make Kyrie work on defense. This would tire Kyrie out and possibly get him into foul trouble. Forcing the Nets to rely on other players and not just let Irving beat them will give the Knicks a legitimate shot at taking this game. Looking at this Nets team, they don’t have a lot of scoring options. They have Kyrie and LeVert of course, along with consistent shooting from Harris and Dinwiddie. Besides for those four guys and some help from Prince, the Nets get very little contribution on the offensive end.

Keys To Winning

The Knicks are going to need to keep Kyrie Irving in check and control the Nets from 3 point land. In the Nets opener, they shot the 3 ball at a 44% clip raining in 15 of them. Kyrie scored 50 points, while shooting 7-14 from downtown. If the Knicks can contain Irving and the 3 pointer, the Nets should have a hard time scoring. I have faith Morris, Randle, Barrett, and Knox off of the bench will put up plenty of points in this game. Brooklyn committed 30 fouls in their last game and I would like to see the Knicks use that to their advantage. The Knicks only went to the line 18 times against the Spurs and if they can get to the charity stripe more often tonight, they will have a much easier time scoring the ball. I think this game will be a little chippy and both sides will show grit. I predict the New York Knicks to take this one 115-109 on the road and show that they are still New York’s team.

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