- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- This season, New York City will have only one representative in the NBA playoffs: The Brooklyn Nets.
And while much of the talk following Game No. 82 will be about Carmelo Anthony’s future and Phil Jackson’s plan to overhaul the underachieving New York Knicks, the Nets will still be playing basketball.
Deron Williams sees it as a chance for the Nets to capitalize fan-wise.
“I think it’ll be good for us to kinda be the only team playing and all of the focus being on us as far as the fans are concerned,” Williams said Sunday night. “I think that’s good for Brooklyn basketball, and I think it’s good for our brand. The attention is going to be on us, and we have to make the most of that opportunity and hopefully put together a run.”
Going into the season, Paul Pierce said it was time for the Nets “take over the city.”
They haven’t exactly done that. Despite having the best record in said city, the Knicks continue to dominate the airwaves -- as well as the back pages of the tabloids.
But the Nets could perhaps make a dent by advancing deep in the playoffs and hopefully becoming a bigger part of the conversation. They’ve certainly made inroads. But a postseason run, as Williams said, would be huge.
The Nets and Knicks will get reacquainted Tuesday night at Barclays Center for the fourth and final time in the 2013-14 installment of the East River Rivalry. The Knicks lead the series 2-1.
Neither team really has anything to play for. The Nets, who have a magic number of one to clinch the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, may elect to sit some players.
It hasn’t exactly been the rivalry many people hoped it would be after all the back-and-forth over the summer, as all three games have been blowouts to this point.
“It doesn’t matter to me at this point,” Williams said. “We’re just worried about the playoffs, worried about what’s going on in this locker room and what we’re doing on the court. So as far as that’s concerned, like I said, it definitely would be good for the city to have a strong rivalry between the boroughs, but there’s still a lot of time.”
Said Joe Johnson: “It’ll still be a pretty big game. Like I said, we’re playing for something bigger than just the Knicks and the Nets. Obviously, we’re preparing ourselves for the postseason, and we’ll continue to play hard and continue to work toward that.”
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