Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who wins more playoff games next season: the Knicks or Nets?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Gotta go with the team that got a heart transplant: the Nets. There is no how, no way that Brooklyn — on its home court against a banged-up, undermanned Chicago Bulls squad in the first round — loses Game 7 if it has the leadership and intensity of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in its locker room and on its side. Then you add a highly motivated Andrei Kirilenko as a retro Swiss Army knife, not required at this stage to log heavy minutes, and for such a tiny price (as if that matters there)? I don’t see the Knicks as having done much of anything to get sharper, more focused or more dangerous. I think the Nets double New York’s postseason victory total, easy.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The Knicks won their first playoff series in ages, flamed out in the second round, and the response was to trade for the soft Andrea Bargnani, re-sign J.R. Smith and then steal faded Metta World Peace from China or the Arena Football League. The Nets get Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko to go with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. It’s the Nets by a mile.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I think — I think — this is a slam dunk. The Nets will win more playoff games. They’ve got All-Stars at the two key positions, point guard and center (Deron Williams reverted to All-Star form in the second half) and then you bring in the savvy of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to a starting five that also includes Joe Johnson. The stunning signing of Andrei Kirilenko really strengthens the bench. I can’t say the Knicks got better this offseason. Metta World Peace can help defensively, but he’s no Ron Artest at this point.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The Nets. The Knicks will be interesting, but Brooklyn has positioned itself better for postseason wins. But this is from a guy who thought they had a chance for a long run a year ago, and still believed during sluggish periods in the second half of 2012-13 that the Nets could be the second-best team in the East.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Brooklyn, because they will have the better defense. Both teams had below-average defenses last season, and though the Nets were worse, they did more to address the issue – with the additions of Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko – than the Knicks did. New York could put together a solid defensive lineup or two, but still has too many non-defenders in its rotation (particularly with the addition of Andrea Bargnani) to believe it can get back to being the defensive team it was in ’11-12.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: The Knicks have two clear advantages over the Nets and that’s in the coaching department. Mike Woodson is far more experienced than Jason Kidd and Carmelo Anthony plays for the Knicks. But the Nets have the advantages basically everywhere else and that’s why I think they win more playoff games next season. Both of these teams have the tools to make it at least to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks, while built for success in the regular season, struggled to get past the adversity they faced last season. The Nets, if Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are healthy, have a crew built for success in the second season.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: The Nets. The Knicks will win more regular season games, but the Nets strike me as a team built to win in the postseason. I just hope there’s some point in the regular season where Nets coach Jason Kidd has to activate himself for a game or two.