Are the Nets the best basketball team in New York? Uh, yeah.
Sure, I’ll go ahead and say it: they are for the moment, at least until the Knicks prove they’ve dealt with their injury woes. Three of their should-be starters missed last night’s game, and the most fans can be happy about is that Carmelo Anthony’s knee just needed to be drained rather than replaced. (They’re 1-3 since Amar’e was ruled indefinitely out, and those losses were bad losses.) The Nets, on the other hand, are 22-12 since the beginning of the 2013 and continue slicing the deficit for the division lead: They’re just one game back, and could tie things up on Sunday.
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Eagle chalks Brooklyn’s resurgence up to the revitalized Deron Williams, who’s averaging 23.3 post-break points per game on a .467/.471/.852 shooting line. Beyond Basketball Reference, the eye test reveals a healthier, zippier dude who’s once again using his speed to create opportunities that were eluding him at the beginning of the season, rather than forcing things—and when your primary ball-handler’s mind and body are right, everything else falls into place. Not to count our chickens—or division titles, for that matter—but it’s hard to ignore where the balance of power is slowly shifting. Come at me, Knicks fans. (But please, don’t bring this up in a week if Carmelo and Tyson Chandler return stronger than ever and Deron Williams falls down a metaphorical well.)