The Yankees’ loss in the very first round of the MLB playoffs last week has left a huge void for sports fans here, making room at the most opportune time, the beginning of the NBA season.
The league officially opened Tuesday night, spectacularly with four of their best teams from both conferences competing. The Philadelphia 76ers versus the Boston Celtics first, and the Oklahoma Thunder versus the Golden State Warriors, the defending champions. Back-to-back nationally televised games. The first two of the regular season games on the 2018-19 NBA schedule.
New York is one the few cities lucky enough to have more than one National Basketball Association team as they have both the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, two of the 30. But the city’s prosperity has failed to yield any championship seasons since the 1972-73 season for the Knicks and zero for the Brooklyn Nets, although they did win a championship in 1974 and in 1976 when the team was a franchise in the American Basketball Association, which merged with the NBA in June 1976, one month after the Nets won their second championship.
It’s been more than 40 years since a New York basketball team has won it all. They’ve come close, but there are no rings, parades or banner hangings.
Last season, the Knicks were the Eastern Conference 11th seed, and Brooklyn was 12th.
Brooklyn opened their season last night on the road in Detroit against the Pistons, and then home tomorrow night, Barclays Center against the Knicks, but they’re already starting the season off with a deficit because of an injury to forward DeMarre Carroll. Carroll underwent arthroscopy surgery Tuesday to repair his right ankle and is out indefinitely.
Carroll, 32, a 10-year veteran in his second year with Brooklyn, was the team’s third-leading scorer, and second-leading rebounder, last season averaging 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in 73 game appearances.
Head coach Kenny Atkinson also announced that guard Allen Crabbe would be out because of an injured ankle and newly acquired guard Shabazz Napier, who excelled with the Portland Trailblazers last year and was signed by Brooklyn in the offseason, would also be out because of a hamstring issue.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn’s starting power forward, is day-to-day, a game time decision because of an adductor injury, an acute muscle strain to his groin muscle.
“We were battling injuries all preseason,” said D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn’s second year guard. “It forces guys to step up, and we’ve got the pieces to do that. Our bench is kind of deep this year.”
Atkinson shares Russell’s sentiment about the deeper team that their general manager, Sean Marks, has put together.
He commented, “I do think we have a deeper team this year. We have guys who can cover for other guys. That’s really what a team is about.”
Brooklyn hits the road immediately after the Knicks game, departing to Indiana for a game Saturday against the Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday and to New Orleans to play the Pelicans next Friday, their first road trip.