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Brooklyn Nets

A Tale of Two Cities: The Knicks react in the face of adversity while the Nets show off their depth

RJ Barrett Knicks Nets
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On November 10, the Knicks' General Manager Steve Mills held an abrupt press conference that had #NBATwitter as well as the traditional media claiming that Head Coach David Fizdale was doomed for the unemployment line.

The Knicks then blew a second-half lead to the Chicago Bulls - the only team they had beaten at that point. New York saw rookie Coby White outscore the entire team in the 4th quarter by hitting a Bulls-record seven 3-pointers.

Just a reminder that Michael Jordan played for the Bulls so anytime you set a franchise-record for Chicago, you're in good company.

After the embarrassing loss in the windy city, all seemed lost and the Knicks were gearing up for a matchup against former prodigy Kristaps Porzingis who was making his return to Madison Square Garden. Knicks' fans lined up a little more enthusiastically than normal to watch their former ray of light as well as sophomore sensation, Luka Doncic, who would be making his only trip to MSG for the year.

Fans booed and chanted "KP Sucks" throughout the game yet the Mavericks rallied to even the score after the Knicks held an early lead. The teams went back and forth and when former Knicks star Tim Hardaway buried a 3-pointer with six minutes left in the fourth, all seemed lost.

The Knicks were on the verge of starting 1-8 and watching their old gem come into their house and show why he was better for parting ways with the Knicks. The game so much in limbo that the news of Carmelo Anthony signing with Portland broke and fans began to focus on past glory.

Then, like a lightbulb turning on to showcase a brilliant idea, the Knicks got their act together. R.J. Barrett got to the lane for a quick two and regained the lead. Next thing you know Julius Randle gets a bucket and Marcus Morris hits a couple of clutch 3-pointers. In a blink of an eye, the Knicks doubled their win total.

Since that time, the Knicks have gone 1-2 - but their two losses have been hard-fought. The Knicks lost on a game-winner against Charlotte and held a late-lead in a closely contested battle against the Eastern Conference favorites, Philadelphia 76ers. As the Knicks look to become a more cohesive unit, they will have to work on their 3-point defense, currently 22nd (out of 30 teams) in the league.

They even allowed Ben Simmons to nail the first 3-pointer of his NBA career.

MORE: Ben Simmons knocks down 1st career 3-pointer

While New York is working to develop their youth, their cross-town rivals seems to be having their own challenges.

After winning back-to-back games against the Pelicans and Trail Blazers, the Nets dropped three straight and finished their west coast road trip with a losing record at 2-3. Rumors about Kyrie Irving's role in the locker room have been dominant in New York media and only worsened when Irving began sitting out games. However, with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup, the Nets have won 2 of 3 and are actually tied for 7th place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Without Irving, the Nets have seen Spencer Dinwiddie take the lead role and have received key contributions from Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris. In short, the Nets showcased enough substance in their lineup to justify why the team finished 6th in the Eastern Conference last season.

The Nets, like the rest of the NBA, are far from the final version they should be at come playoff time. The Nets will also have to be prepared for not only Irving to return, but two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant at some point regardless of whether it happens this season or next. The bumps along the way may be present but with the Eastern Conference looking for a front-runner to dethrone Toronto, the Nets can get a pass this early in the season.

Early on, it seems as though both teams are heading in opposite directions. The Nets are ascending towards playoff contention while the Knicks were destined for the lottery again. While that may still be the case, especially considering the Knicks are literally in last place in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks can shift the balance with a victory.

Each matchup between the Knicks and Nets is a measuring stick and a chance to determine the viability of a "quick-fix" through free agency juxtaposed with a "wait-and-see" development model.

The two paths certainly show that as big as New York is, the basketball identity clearly is a tale of two cities.

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