The Knicks and Nets square off at Barclays again tonight, but unlike their first meeting when both teams couldn’t stop winning, they seem to be moving in opposite directions now. The Knicks dusted themselves off and blew out the defending champion Heat by 20 points and are owners of the best record in the Eastern Conference, while the Nets have turned in a couple of uninpsired performances at home against perennial doormats the Golden State Warriors and team of no note the Milwaukee Bucks. What’s behind the Nets’ malaise, missing their center, Brook Lopez, or missing their secret weapon, Beyonce?
We turn first to the Daily News‘ Filip Bondy, who blames the Nets’ struggles on the fact that their big man is out with a fot injury that just won’t heal. According to Bondy, the Nets offense without Lopez has the flow of “a clotted ketchup bottle” and the team is resurrecting memories of the bygone days of the New Jersey Nets. All very specific, learned observations that come from someone with years of covering professional basketball, and should be respected because of that. But let’s throw all that out and focus on magic instead.
To wit, the Nets are 3-0 when Brooklyn’s Empress, Beyonce Knowles, sits courtside according to crack research done by Business Insider. They’re a pedestrian 4-4 without her glowing presence in the front row. Is it because she has divine powers, ways to influence the game that we can’t begin to see or imagine? Maybe. It could also be that no one wants to face Jay-Z’s wrath by losing in front of his wife so everyone focuses extra hard on the annoying parts of basketball like defense and not turning the ball over.
As the only Brokelyn staffer with an interest in basketball, I’ve gotta say, I find Business Insider’s analysis more compelling than Bondy’s. Lopez is still kind of a big goof out there, and even with him in the lineup last time, the Knicks had an opportunity to win the game on their last shot in regulation. On the other hand, Beyonce was in attendance that night and the Nets ended up dominating overtime. Beyonce isn’t on tour or anything, so if she and Jay can get a sitter, maybe she’ll be there. The Nets had better hope so, because Brook Lopez isn’t walking through that door.