How To Net The Win: Nets vs. Knicks 10/3/17

Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks 

Tuesday October 3rd 2017, 7:30 PM ET
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: MSG

Projected Starters:

Absences:

After one of the craziest offseasons in NBA history, the NBA preseason is finally upon us. With the 2017-18 regular season just over two weeks away, the preseason itself is shorter than ever before. The Brooklyn Nets only have four preseason games this year after six last season. The shorter preseason is good for players and fans in the long run, but the compressed preseason will make each contest more important.

The Nets made some dramatic changes this summer. However, none of Brooklyn’s moves altered the franchise as much as the Carmelo Anthony trade altered the Knicks. Here is a preview of the crosstown battle to open the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason.

Starting Backcourt Battle: Time to Shine

The Nets struggled with their starting backcourt for much of last season due to Jeremy Lin‘s hamstring injury. This season, however, their starting backcourt should be the team’s greatest strength. Kenny Atkinson may opt to start newcomer Allen Crabbe at shooting guard, though the wing is currently sidelined with a sprained left ankle. For now, Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell will probably share the backcourt duties. Russell has the size and shooting touch to play at the two, and Lin played at off-guard regularly, as recently as two seasons ago in Charlotte. Their ability to play together in the backcourt will be crucial to Brooklyn’s future and should be the main focus of Nets fans.

The New York Knicks have an entirely different situation. Tim Hardaway Jr. received one of the most heavily derided contracts of the offseason, but he is still at least a capable offensive player. Their point guard rotation, on the other hand, is the worst in the NBA outside of Chicago. Rookie Frank Ntilikina is a long-term project; Ron Baker is overpaid on a two-year, $9 million deal; and Ramon Sessions was atrocious last season. The backcourt battle will be Brooklyn’s easiest path to victory in this game.

Advantage: Brooklyn

Starting Frontcourt Battle: Size vs. Skill

The biggest hole in this Nets’ roster is clearly at center. After years of center being the only locked-in starting spot on the team with Brook Lopez in the fold, that starting spot is wide-open this season. Kenny Atkinson has certainly had some interesting thoughts on that position since Media Day:

While playing Hollis-Jefferson at center is an intriguing concept, Brooklyn will probably not roll that lineup out to start this game. However, they should still opt to play Hollis-Jefferson at power forward and Caris LeVert (when healthy) at small forward, given how successful they both were at those respective positions down the stretch of 2017-18. Timofey Mozgov is penciled in as the starting center by default, but Atkinson might look to start Jarrett Allen, given his recent medical clearance.

The Knicks lost a huge piece in their frontcourt with the Carmelo Anthony trade. However, they still have the best frontcourt player in this particular contest in Kristaps Porzingis. Given Brooklyn’s issues up front, Porzingis is a matchup nightmare — Hollis-Jefferson is too short to guard the 7-foot-3 Porzingis’ jump shot, and Mozgov is simply too slow. The Knicks may opt to start Enes Kanter at center, but Hernangomez is probably a better fit for the starting lineup. No matchup is anywhere near as favorable as the advantage that Kristaps Porzingis will have on the inside.