BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The Knicks and Nets head out west for a week.
This should give them an opportunity to find themselves and start creating an identity while away from home. If only it were that simple…
The personnel is more of a problem than people realize. Neither team plays defense. There is no guard play either. The offense is just not cohesive, and some guys are simply not a good fit for the team.
The truth of the matter is that neither team is particularly good, and they are not worth your time spent watching them.
Sure, there are many games to be played, but the eye test tells you differently.
The Knicks are a middling team, at best. This is not good enough in a loaded Eastern Conference that boasts teams with star power. The Knickerbockers don’t have any star players that are a go-to guy in tight games.
The Nets have game-changing talent in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but the supporting players leave so much to be desired. Plus, it seems these guys are not playing well together and the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.
It’s going to be hard for the Nets to win if this is an iso offense geared toward Irving and Durant.
It’s fair to question if both Nets stars are truly engaged and committed to winning a championship, especially in the case of Irving. Durant seems to be playing much better under Nets coach Jacques Vaughn. But time will tell how this goes.
The Knicks and Nets will wow you, but they are going to frustrate you in the end.
The Knicks are 6-6 by merit. They won six games against mediocre to bad teams and lost six games to elite teams. This goes back to them not having star power to match up against elite teams, and it makes one wonder why they did not go hard after Donovan Mitchell.
The Nets will be good enough to beat some teams just by having Durant and Irving. It’s fair to wonder if this team has it in them to win a championship. For one thing, they don’t play defense. This is going to be a problem when they play elite teams. Also, they don’t have the depth to match up with great teams that will matter as the playoffs go along.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Nets won four of five games since Vaughn replaced Nash. The team was going to respond to a new head coach after dealing with a head coach who was a dead man walking. This is more of a quick fix right now. We will see if they can sustain this for four months. This can be hard to do.
The Nets should do fine when Irving eventually comes back from his suspension from the team after initially refusing to apologize for supporting an antisemitic film on Twitter. He will play hard for Vaughn since he respects him. With that said, I just don’t know how the Nets are going to win with Irving, who does not have that championship DNA in him.
The Nets should make the playoffs. They can even win a playoff round. As far as going further after that, this could be far-fetched. The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks have better depth and coaching for the Nets to keep up in the end. Even if they survive that gauntlet, they will have to deal with a Western Conference team that has more depth than them in the NBA Finals.
The best the Knicks can do is be a play-in team, but is that enough to make anyone happy? Shouldn’t the Knicks have higher goals? Under Knicks owner James Dolan, it’s been 21 years of awful basketball. They have not won a championship in 49 years, and it’s going to be 50 and counting once the season is over. This team has not moved the needle in the NBA whatsoever, and they have not made anyone in New York excited.
Here’s the bottom line: Both teams are not in the same league as other elite teams. This is why we are in NBA’s wasteland.
The Knicks and Nets are unwatchable and unlikeable. It’s hard to get into them when they just jack shots and play street basketball rather than actually basketball.
This city deserves better. After all, New York has served as the mecca of basketball for such a long time. Basketball has been the heart and soul of the city.
To see bad basketball by both local pro teams is discouraging and disheartening. It’s even sad when fans root for other popular teams in the NBA, because there’s nothing to like about the Knicks and Nets.
Others around the country laugh at us, and for good reason.
For the nation’s biggest media market with so many resources to work with, our NBA teams should be better than this.
The fans in the tri-state area deserve better than what they are seeing.
This writer can be reached on Twitter: @LeslieMonteiro6
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