Gotham Hoops Duo Basking in Momentary Hopes of Competence
2014 has brought slivers of respite to New York's NBA teams.
The Knicks' and Nets' combined record of 10-2 since the New Year offers hope that both teams could at least rise to a level of mediocrity. And this season in the NBA East, that's all it should take to make the playoffs.
The Nets, now 15-22, had a five-game winning streak stopped on Saturday with a loss to first-place (!) Toronto. With Brook Lopez out for the season, the twin creaks of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have actually stepped it up, and Brooklyn has begun to rise in the standings. The biggest win of the stretch was a victory over the Miami Heat in double overtime as Joe Johnson scored 32 points. The Nets have considerable ground to make up, but in the Eastern Conference, anyone around or close to .500 can make the playoffs. Brooklyn has a trip to London to play Atlanta on Thursday followed by a big Martin Luther King day showdown against the Knicks.
Speaking of the Knicks, through all the JR Smith antics and all the injuries, they've started 2014 at 5-1 and could have won the game they lost to Houston. At 14-22, New York is still impossible to watch with all its players' jumping and chest bumps after every basket but, any team with Carmelo Anthony on it is a threat at any time. The Knicks have also been hit with the injury bug, but they preceded the Nets by posting a signature win against the Heat the night before the Nets beat them.
Look for both New York teams to make the playoffs in the watered down Eastern Conference, but with Indiana and Miami easily the favorites, wouldn't the lottery be a better fate for them this year?
Oh, that's right, neither team has their first-round pick.
Denver has the Knicks' pick, and Atlanta or Boston has Brooklyn's. Add to those facts the points that a) Brooklyn's picks for the next couple of years are in Boston, and b) Anthony will most likely become a free agent after the season, and it looks like both New York teams have the potential to dwell in the bottom of the standings for years to come.
All they can ask is that, every once in a while, the Eastern Conference to sink to their level. This year, it's happening.