The New York Knicks might not have anything to play for against the Brooklyn Nets, but the opportunity to strike a blow to your city rivals is an opportunity most franchises would relish at this time of the season. Our Nets vs Knicks predictions take a look at the various impacts that this game could have on the entire Eastern Conference landscape.
The Nets are trying to find a groove with their superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving available to play on a nightly basis, but they have struggled to find any consistency as they lumber toward the play-in tournament.
The New York Knicks have been a large disappointment for their fans this season, but the transition toward their younger players seeing meaningful minutes to close out the season has brought a sense of renewed optimism about the direction of the franchise.
The care-free nature in which the Knicks are playing could spell trouble for Brooklyn. The Nets, can still finish the season anywhere from the seven spot down to the 10 seed depending on how things wind up for them down the stretch.
No Margin for Error
The Brooklyn Nets had gone just 1-3 over a four-game stretch before knocking off Oklahoma City on Tuesday, pushing them perilously close to falling into the 9/10 seed in the Eastern Conference and taking the hardest possible route to the playoffs.
This rough stretch removed any chance of them sneaking into the six seed but the Nets know they can ill afford to drop off down the stretch.
With winnable home games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers on deck, the team is expected to win out the remainder of the way and ensure they at least finish in the eight seed at worst.
Any slip-up, though, could be disastrous, with the Atlanta Hawks sitting level with them at the moment and the Charlotte Hornets just a game back. Charlotte also owns the tiebreaker over the Nets.
Brooklyn won all three meetings with its New York rivals this season, but two of those were decided by a single possession and the third was only a five-point win, making it difficult to gauge NBA points spreads and predictions on this matchup.
That said, the Nets have now won six straight meetings with the Knicks after completing a three-game sweep against them last season.
Knicks Enjoying Pressure-Free Environment
There has been little-to-no expectations on the New York Knicks over the past month after the team failed to do enough to overcome a disastrous early season and fell well out the playoff picture in the East.
The opportunity that their situation has provided is to allow extended minutes to some of their young players, who had spent the majority of the season on the fringes of the rotations.
Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley have been the biggest beneficiaries, and with Julius Randle making it well known that he wants out of New York, the team can now begin forging a new identity on the back of these young, exciting playmakers.
Toppin and Quickley combined for 20 points each in their last outing against the Orlando Magic, with the latter recording his first career triple-double in the process. Toppin, meanwhile, made it back-to-back 20 point outings in the starting lineup.
While the feel-good factor in New York has given the Knicks a positive end to a disappointing season, the stakes for Brooklyn are too high and is undoubtedly the biggest factor that should be looked at when making your Nets vs Knicks predictions.
Time to Shine
When looking at this particular matchup it’s impossible to go past the simple fact that the Nets have the two best players on the floor in Durant and Irving.
Durant is coming off an uncharacteristically bad shooting night against Houston and he’ll relish the opportunity to right that against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
He dropped 53 points in their most recent meeting back in March and didn’t feature in the teams previous visit to the Mecca of basketball.
From a betting perspective, three straight wins by the Nets this season has also been met by three straight covers by the Knicks.
When making your Nets vs Knicks betting predictions, the situational advantage for New York should put the team in position to stay within the number. Ultimately, though, the Knicks are likely to fall short again in the Battle for New York.
Expect the Nets to get the job down in this final week and give themselves every opportunity of snatching the seven seed to ensure a play-in game at the Barclays Center to kick things off.