NBA New York Teams: Nets & Knicks Headed In Opposite Directions


Despite Injuries & Challenges, Nets Poised For Deep Playoff Run

The Brooklyn Nets have only had Kyrie Irving for seven games, and fellow superstar Kevin Durant will miss at least another month of action with a sprained MCL.


Despite lacking the “big three” of Irving, Durant and James Harden for most of the season, the Nets remain near the very top of the NBA standings and are in a good position to clinch home advantage in the Eastern Conference playoff field.


Last year, the Nets fell one game short of the conference finals, losing to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of a thrilling seven-game series. Not having Irving (ankle) for the final three games of that series obviously played a huge factor in the heartbreaking series loss.


But the Nets have greatly built off last season’s success and look destined for a deeper postseason run this time around.


Brooklyn remains the betting favorite to win the 2022 NBA Championship. Now that the Caesars NY App is live, customers can get a deposit match of up to $1,500 and a free jersey if they deposit $50.


Harden and Durant remain in their primes, and Irving is still a top-notch scorer and playmaker when he’s on the court. But Brooklyn has also enjoyed superb production from veterans LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, Joe Harris and Nic Claxton.


With a deep bench and tremendous roster depth, the Knicks should be considered the team to beat as long as they have their three main stars healthy for the 2022 postseason. That’s a big “if”, however.


The Nets still have the trade deadline to upgrade their roster if they so desire. But even with a rash of injuries to core players, head coach Steve Nash keeps finding ways to get the most out of his players. Perhaps the Nets will decide against changing up their roster much, if at all.


The bottom line is that 2022 is championship or bust for the Nets. Just like last year.


New York Knicks Struggling To Build Off Unexpected 2020-21 Success


2021 marked the first year since 2013 where both New York-based NBA teams — the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks — qualified for the postseason.


The Nets’ playoff appearance wasn’t the least bit surprising. But it was a completely different story for Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks.


His hiring was widely panned across the league, yet he got the last laugh after leading New York to the No. 4 seed in the East (41-31). The dream season ultimately ended in the first round, however, when New York was dispatched by the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in five games.


But it was a highly successful season nonetheless in Manhattan. New York ended an eight-year playoff drought and even finished ahead of two Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors.


Unfortunately, the Knicks have greatly struggled in building off last season’s progress.


At the start of the 2021-22 season, the Knicks had +6600 odds of winning the NBA Championship at Fox Bet. Those odds have already shrunk down to +9000.

The addition of veteran point guard Kemba Walker and three-point shooting stalwart Evan Fournier haven’t been enough to help the Knicks take that next step.

If the postseason started today, the Knicks (23-25 through 48) wouldn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament. Injuries to Derrick Rose (sidelined after undergoing ankle surgery last month), and a considerable drop on defense (third in defensive rating last year, 10th this year) haven’t helped matters.


Granted, the Eastern Conference was relatively weak a year ago. Only the Nets, Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers were viewed as legitimate title contenders, though the Hawks wound up surprising by advancing to the Conference Finals.


But in 2021-22, the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls have made significant progress and are in contention for the top seed in the East. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets have greatly exceeded expectations, and the Raptors have bounced back following a lost 2020-21 campaign that saw them play zero games in Toronto.


There’s still plenty of time for the Knicks to push their way back into a play-in berth, and Rose’s eventual return will greatly help. But the Knicks certainly won’t be a top-six seed, and it’s going to be a challenge to finish above .500 again.


That said, qualifying for the play-in tournament would at least minimize the disappointment that has been 2021-22.

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