- Ian Begley, ESPN New York Writer
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Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight's Knicks-Nets game:
Payback? The last time the Nets visited the Garden, they embarrassed the Knicks in a 23-point win in which the home team scored just 80 points.
The Knicks will be out for revenge Wednesday, and the stakes will be much higher than they were back on Jan. 20.
New York will take the court just one game back of the Hawks in the race for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. A Knicks' win and an Atlanta loss (the Hawks play the Bulls on Wednesday) would put the Knicks percentage points ahead of the Hawks and alone in eighth place.
The Knicks face tough odds, though.
Just four of Atlanta's nine remaining games are against teams with records over .500. Three of the Hawks' opponents (Milwaukee, Boston, Detroit) are a combined 94 games under .500. Atlanta is a combined 12-12 against the nine teams left on its schedule.
The Knicks have seven games to play. All seven are against teams over .500. The Knicks are a combined 3-9 against the seven teams remaining on their schedule. New York also trails the Hawks by two games in the loss column. Atlanta holds the tiebreaker by virtue of the team's record against Eastern Conference opponents.
So the Nets, who play the Knicks twice before the end of the year, have a chance to do considerable damage to New York's playoff hopes. Same goes for the the Knicks.
With a win or two, New York can help keep Brooklyn from securing home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The Nets, who are 30-12 since Jan. 1, are 1.5 games back of Chicago and Toronto for third place in the conference.
Home cooking? The Knicks have lost two straight home games and three of their last four games at the Garden against the Nets. New York is also just 16-21 at home this season. Last year, they were 31-10.
But a few numbers should give the Knicks hope tonight against Brooklyn.
The Nets beat the Rockets last night at home but are only 5-11 (.313) in the second of games played on consecutive nights. That is the lowest winning percentage in the second game of back-to-backs among teams that currently own a winning record. Jason Kidd's Nets are also just 14-22 on the road this year.
What about Timmy? Knicks rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. is questionable for tonight's game due to a sprained right ankle.
New York Knicks
If Hardaway Jr. can't play, that will likely mean more minutes for Iman Shumpert. Will Shumpert be able to fill the scoring void in Hardaway's absence? Shumpert's averaging 6.5 points per game on 37.5 percent shooting this season. He was replaced in the starting lineup by J.R. Smith in mid March. Since then, Shumpert averaged 5.3 points per game on 38 percent shooting.
Shumpert's presence may help the Knicks' defense, though. New York is outscoring teams by 2.5 points per 48 minutes when Shumpert's on the court. When he's off the floor, the Knicks are being outscored 5.3 points per 48 minutes.
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Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight's Knicks-Nets game: Payback? The last time the Nets visited the Garden, they embarrassed the Knicks in a 23-point win in which the home team scored just 80 points.