Nets vs. Knicks: Previewing the first 'Battle of the Boroughs'

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

The postponed "Battle of the Boroughs" finally tips Monday, and the first game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets now has a little more to hinge itself upon.

This one was supposed to be the kickoff to the NBA season. Though there was hype, nobody knew what exactly to expect. But after Hurricane Sandy disrupted the season opener between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks, the game postponed until Monday night in the Barclays Center now has a little more context to it.

The Knicks (9-3) have gotten off to a surprising head start, and so have the Nets at 8-4. Both teams have been wildly efficient on the offensive side of the ball, and the storylines go deeper than an early-season battle for the top of the Atlantic Division.

Carmelo is coming home

A Brooklyn native, Carmelo Anthony returns to the borough after the Nets ultimately failed to land him a few seasons ago. The Knicks played up his return "home" with a video soon after the former Denver Nuggets forward was traded to New York.

Anthony is riding a hot streak to start the season, and it's hard to imagine him not getting up for the game. He's shooting 47 percent from the floor, connecting on 42 percent from three (he is a 32.6 percent three-pointer shooter for his career) and leading the Knicks with 25.6 points per game.

Johnson's time to back up the talk

Understandably, the Nets are playing up the newly-ignited rivalry more than the Knicks. Joe Johnson told ESPN New York that he felt like Brooklyn is the better team, but it's Johnson who should be the first player to back up his talk, as he's gotten off to a slow start by shooting 40 percent from the field through 12 games.

While Deron Williams is the leader, it goes back to the acquisition of Johnson this offseason that kept the point guard in town and acts as the bolstering point for Mikhail Prokhorov's team.

So, who's better?

The Knicks got off to one of the hottest starts in the NBA, but have cooled off considerably in the past week. Two losses in a row to the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets saw New York give up 114 and 131 points to the opponent, but the Knicks got back on track Sunday with a 121-100 victory against the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn is slowly fitting the pieces together. On Friday, the Nets put together their best victory of the season while facing the Los Angeles Clippers. With that followed by a win against Portland, Brooklyn is building momentum behind some solid defensive efforts.

Time: 7 p.m. ET


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