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Nets Facing Pressure Of Must-Win v Knicks

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If there were an NBA trophy for spectacular ineptitude, both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets would be favorites to win right now. As both team’s seasons descend into car-crash territory, one thing is clear about Thursday night’s meeting of the two rivals at Barclays Center: one of them (un)fortunately has to win.

Who is facing more pressure to win, though? Is it the Knicks, who are on a nine-game skid? Or is it the Nets, who have not won a home game since defeating the Utah Jazz on November 5?

After another embarrassing loss at home on Tuesday night, this time at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, 111-87, and amid personnel movement that shook the team – even if they didn’t admit it publicly – Brooklyn needs a win more than ever. Head coach Jason Kidd, who looked stressed at his post-game media conference following the Nuggets’ game, said the fact that their next game was against the Knicks didn’t add any extra pressure.

“It’s a rivalry,” Kidd said. “Both teams stink. We’ve got to find a way to get better, and it starts tomorrow for us.”

Kidd has been preaching patience with this team, along with his neophyte coaching ability, always alluding to “the process,” but if the team loses on Thursday, how will management react? It’s unlikely Kidd’s job will be in jeopardy. Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov will be willing to admit he made a mistake in hiring the former point guard – or that the plan Kidd laid out for the team is not working.

Also take into consideration that the Nets are willing to burn a million dollars a year just to have Lawrence Frank write daily reports. That’s how much backing Kidd has at this stage.

No, Kidd will be here at helm for a little while longer. He hasn’t even had his heralded core healthy at the one time for, well, pretty much the whole season. The projected starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez has played just eight games together, and logged a mere 78 minutes alongside one another.

Even when guys have been healthy though, the effort and the passion to win, has been seemingly non-existent. The same can’t be said of the Knicks – at least in their more recent games, they’ve been competitive. It’s on the Nets’ players to change their mentality heading into Thursday’s game. They may act like it’s just another on an 82-game schedule, but the implications are far greater than just a singular encounter.

Garnett, who has looked a shadow of his former self, said the team was “soul-searching” right now. He acknowledged how important the game was to fans, and management.

“We need to figure this out soon,” said Garnett. “I think we’re just trying to figure out who we are, and fix this. We’re at home getting beat by 30-40 points, that’s not what we want. We gotta’ have a better showing at home; we gotta’ have a better showing period. And we will. We have no choice.”

Mirza Teletovic, Brooklyn’s sharp-shooting forward, said the Knicks’ game would be tough, but added there was no extra pressure to win.

“No. Not really. The Knicks’ have had a bad stretch like we [have],” said Teletovic. “It’s not going to be an easy game. They’re going to try to win, just like we [will] do. I think it should be a good game for us.”

Brooklyn had better come out with some intensity against their cross-town rival, or they may be the sole proprietors of the spectacular ineptitude title when it’s all said-and-done.


Image via: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

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