Why is the New York Knicks’ Improved Performance Adding More Pressure on Brooklyn Nets?

Published 04/26/2021, 9:33 PM EDT
Apr 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives to the basket against New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) and guard Derrick Rose (4) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


This year, the Knicks are not just ruling the Atlantic Division, but they’re suddenly a threat to the entire EC. After winning nine straight games, this flamboyant side is on its course to solidify that highly valuable #4 seed in the conference. 

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Analysts would always count the WC as superior in terms of the cut-throat competition. However, this year, with the rise of the Knicks and the Hawks, the gap in the east has closed to a notable extent. So is this worrisome for another NY-based side, the Nets, who are at the helm of the table?

Can the Knicks bother the Brooklyn Nets in any way?

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In a recent interview, NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith gave a shout-out to the Knicks by praising their turnaround. The 53-YO TV personality emphatically detailed, “It’s everything when you’ve never won a title since 1973… When you’ve never been relevant for the last quarter of a century, of course, it’s a big big deal… This is the #1 defense in the NBA, they play together, they’re building a culture.” 

Nets’ Kyrie Irving against Knicks’ Julius Randle at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks are coming off two very dampening decades where they could barely make it to five postseasons. Post 2013, they’ve had two 17-win seasons, making them a forgetful franchise among their own fans. So this comeback matters a lot for the NY fans. And according to Stephen, this comeback might be a source of concern to the Brooklyn team too.

Stephen added, “The more the NY Knicks elevate in the level of relevance, the more pressure it puts on Brooklyn Nets to win the chip because the Knicks getting to the second round of the playoffs is a better scoring than Brooklyn going to the finals and losing, you heard it here first.”

Certainly, an underdog story like that would sell more than a super-team losing on an important occasion.

Read also – How Kobe Bryant Inspired Julius Randle to Improve His Games By Setting His Priorities Straight

What has fueled the potential of the NY squad?

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It’s true that the Knicks are 0-3 against the Nets this season, but all of those losses came with a 7-point difference or less. Surprisingly, the Knicks are not studded with Brooklyn-like superstars, and yet they’re performing like they are.

Julius Randle, for one, is on their driving seat, averaging 24 points, 10.5 boards, 6 assists, and a steal to make his case for MVP. And if not that, he is at the very least an All-NBA team addition and the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award. His leadership has been a big plus for the Knicks and a genuine help to coach Tom Thibodeau. 

Also, the group of veterans led by 3x All-Star Derrick Rose and supported by Alec Burks and Reggie Bullock is coming as a major plus. Not to forget, center Nerlens Noel is a defensive boost and RJ Barrett is filling the offensive gap pretty well. It’s a very balanced side which explains their success.

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Do you think they can make it to the second round this time? 

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Sourabh Singh

1136 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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