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Which team will have the better record this season?

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    72%
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(Total votes: 5,061)

KNICKS
NETS

KNICKS, IF THEY STAY HEALTHY

Begley By Ian Begley
ESPN.com
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Most preseason predictions have the Knicks finishing behind the Nets this season.

Carmelo Anthony & Co. aren't buying it, though.

"This time last season, it was said from the experts that the Knicks would end up fifth or sixth in the East and Boston would probably win the [Atlantic] division," Mike Woodson said Tuesday on 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show." "At the end of the day, we still have to play the game."

Woodson has a point. Preseason predictions often aren't worth the paper (or bandwidth) they're published on.

Can the Knicks finish ahead of the Nets this season? Of course they can. But plenty has to go right for Woodson's club.

First off, the Knicks have to stay healthy. They already have several players dealing with nagging ailments.

Kenyon Martin is dealing with a lingering ankle injury that first surfaced in April, and Amar'e Stoudemire has had three knee surgeries in the past 12 months.

One other issue to monitor: Anthony is playing with tears in the labrum and rotator cuff of his left shoulder.

In addition to staving off injury, the Knicks have to figure out a way to get stops.

New York finished 17th in points allowed per 100 possessions last season. They hope to crack the top 10 this season. But that's going to be tough because regulars such as Andrea Bargnani and Beno Udrih are known as sub-par defenders.

Woodson hopes that Metta World Peace and a healthy Iman Shumpert can help on the defensive end. But can those two and Tyson Chandler make up for the deficiencies of their teammates?

Lastly, New York needs a strong season from Bargnani.

The former No. 1 pick did not have a great showing in the preseason (38 percent shooting), but he can put that behind him with a strong start on Wednesday.

Bargnani is expected to come off the bench against the Bucks in the season opener. If he can help supplement Anthony's scoring while J.R. Smith is out, the Knicks' fan base will quickly get behind him. But if Bargnani struggles early on, it could get ugly quickly.

Ian Begley covers the Knicks for ESPNNewYork.com

NETS ARE DEEP, EXPERIENCED

Mazzeo By Mike Mazzeo
ESPN.com
Archive

The Nets may never take over control of the city from the Knicks, but they will be the best team in New York this season.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wasn't messing around this summer.

He gave GM Billy King the go-ahead to put together a $190 million roster. King aggressively executed a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics to bring in future Hall of Fame forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry.

King also stunned the league by signing versatile defender Andrei Kirilenko for just $3.2 million. He kept Andray Blatche for a bargain price, while also adding key bench pieces Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson.

Add those guys to a nucleus that already includes Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez and you get arguably the deepest team in the NBA -- with a starting lineup that has made a combined 35 All-Star teams.

In KG, Pierce, Terry and AK-47, the Nets added what they were missing last season: leadership, toughness, intensity and defensive prowess. Jason Kidd may be going into his rookie year as a coach, but look at what he has to work with. Now if they can just stay healthy.

The Knicks have the best player in the city in Carmelo Anthony. So there's that.

But what else? Kidd, who played so much bigger than his numbers suggested, is gone. Can J.R. Smith and Metta World Peace keep from combusting?

How long is it going to take Mike Woodson to figure out a stable rotation? Will Amar'e Stoudemire's knees hold up? What can really be expected from Andrea Bargnani?

I don't think the Knicks will be as bad as the computers project, but I think they'll take a slight step back, while the Nets will take a big step forward.

The Knicks will likely always be the No. 1 team in NYC, they just won't be the No. 1 team in the region's NBA standings this season.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com