Friday, March 24, 2023

Nets complete season sweep of Knicks with 21-point comeback, control own fate for No. 7 seed in East

With their 110-98 victory on Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets completed the season sweep over the New York Knicks. The Nets have now won seven straight games over the Knicks, and that streak will carry over into next season. 

The win wasn’t necessarily an easy one for Brooklyn, as they trailed by as many as 21 points early in the third quarter. However, thanks to Kevin Durant’s typical dominance — along with some hot shooting from Patty Mills — the Nets were able to erase that deficit entirely and ultimately build a double-digit lead of their own. 

Durant led the way from Brooklyn with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving added 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists of his own. Patty Mills converted on five of his seven attempts from long range off of the bench for 15 points. 

Durant was especially active in the fourth quarter, where he posted 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Both Durant and Irving played every single second of the second half of the contest. With the win, Brooklyn became just the fourth team with multiple 20-point comebacks against a single team in the last 25 seasons. The Nets also bested the Knicks in February after trailing by 28. 

Given the fact that they share a city, there is always an added level of intrigue when it comes to matchups between the Nets and the Knicks, and that isn’t lost on the participants. 

“We’re both in the city. We know how much Knicks fans don’t like us, especially now in this era of the Nets, [with] us not choosing the Knicks, me and Kyrie,” Durant said after the game. “So it definitely adds something to the rivalry, no matter who’s on the team. I think it will always be like that in the city. So it’s good to be a part of this. It’s a fun rivalry, and hopefully it continues to build and we get more and more animosity between the fan bases. It’s going to be good for the game.” 

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The fact that the Knicks were up by 21 on the Nets at this point in the season is arguably more surprising than the fact that they blew such a large lead, again. After all, the Knicks are officially eliminated from playoff contention, so they don’t really have anything to play for. Also, they were without forward Julius Randle, who is sidelined for the remainder of the season with a quadriceps injury. 

The Nets, on the other hand, are still in a fight for postseason positioning in an extremely competitive conference, they had all of their key contributors (outside of Ben Simmons, who still hasn’t made his debut for the team). Plus, they’re supposed to be gearing up for the playoffs. The fact that they allowed themselves to fall behind by 20-plus points to the Knicks and the first place isn’t a great sign, and neither is the fact they need Durant and Irving to play the whole second half just to pull out a win over a team whose season will be over in a few days. Sure, they were able to walk away with a win, but it’s clear the Nets still have some work to do before postseason play gets underway. 

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