The NBA’s newest fierce rivalry debuts on Thursday night as the Nets, after three-plus decades in New Jersey, make their Brooklyn debut and also debut former Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson, the team’s big offseason addition. There’s a chance this game could be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact.
The Knicks, meanwhile, will be very shorthanded. Star forward Amare Stoudemire is out at least 6-8 weeks with a knee injury suffered in the preseason. Also on the injury front, center Tyson Chandler did some running drills on the side of Tuesday’s practice and said he’s on target to play Thursday. He hopes to be able to take contact in Wednesday’s practice.
He wore a knee brace on Tuesday and said he isn’t sure if he’ll have to do so Thursday against Brooklyn. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year averaged 11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks last season, while shooting a ridiculous 67.9 percent from the field.
Chandler’s backup, Marcus Camby, will probably not be able to play on Thursday. Camby has practiced just once since injuring his calf in the first week of camp. With Camby sidelined, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace will serve as reinforcements behind Chandler.
Tonight’s game officially opens the Barclays Center as the new home of the Nets. The game also marks the return of a professional sports franchise to Brooklyn for the first time since Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers played their final game at Ebbets Field on September 24, 1957.
The matchup will be the first between Brooklyn and New York professional franchises since the Dodgers played the New York Giants on September 8, 1957 at the Polo Grounds.
If the Nets win, it would be their third consecutive season-opening victory. It would also mark the first Nets home victory over the Knicks since 12/30/09 (three game losing streak). If the Nets lose, it would mark their second consecutive loss to the Knicks, fourth consecutive home defeat to New York and seventh loss in the last eight games overall.
The Nets went 1-2 against the Knicks last season, falling 99-92 on 2/4/12 in Madison Square Garden and 104-95 at the Prudential Center. Brooklyn’s one win was 100-92 in New York on 2/20/12.
The Brooklyn backcourt of 2012 All-Star guards Deron Williams and Johnson enters the 2012-13 season as the highest-scoring starting backcourt unit in the Eastern Conference and second-highest in the NBA.
Vegas trends: Knicks are 7-1-1 ATS in the last 9 meetings in Brooklyn (New Jersey). Knicks are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings. Under is 10-4 in the last 14 meetings. Favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings. Road team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings.