NEW YORK -- In a Martin Luther King Jr. Day extravaganza, the Knicks and Nets will take center stage at Madison Square Garden in a matinee showdown between two of the Eastern Conference's elite.
Since their last meeting at the Garden on Dec. 19, 2012, a lot has happened and the Nets have gained four games in the standings on their intra-city rival.
The last meeting could be considered the low point of the season for the Nets. They dropped to 13-12 after their 11-4 start and the Knicks put on an absolute clinic. Brooklyn couldn't stop Tyson Chandler and the pick-and-roll, leaving Nets fans to wonder if they truly could compete with the likes of the conference’s best.
A couple of days later -- and after another 1-2 stretch for the Nets -- Avery Johnson was fired.
Since that point, Brooklyn has gone 10-2 under P.J. Carlesimo and is once again in striking distance to the top teams in the East. The Knicks, on the other hand, have gone 6-7 since Dec. 19. Both teams have been hamstrung by injuries, but it's really taken a toll on the Knicks more than the Nets. New York is currently on a two-game winning streak, but overall this has been the toughest stretch for the Knicks all season.
A recent string of rest, however, could help the Knicks’ older roster. Following their Jan. 13 win over the Hornets, they traveled to London and defeated the Pistons on Jan. 17. Monday’s game against the Nets is their first contest since returning from England. New York won’t play again until Jan. 24.
This game should be a lot more competitive than the last matchup. It is also the last regular-season meeting between these two teams. The NBA certainly made a big mistake by scheduling all four Knicks-Nets rivalry meetings this early in the season. Be that as it may, this game could give both fanbases a barometer of where their teams stand and where they could be headed.