Not Much Margin For Error

The New Jersey Nets don't have much margin for error as the playoffs approach - and that means they'll have to figure out a way to beat the woeful New York Knicks.

The Nets will try to avoid their first season sweep by the Knicks in nine years Monday when the teams meet at Madison Square Garden.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New Jersey -4.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at X total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on New Jersey -4.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

New York (19-50) has won the first three matchups with New Jersey this season, capturing the season series for the first time since taking three of four games in 1999-00. Jason Kidd came to the Nets in 2001, and they were 24-4 against the Knicks since his arrival coming into this season.

However, New Jersey (29-41), which traded Kidd to Dallas on Feb. 19, has been unable to figure out New York in 2007-08 after winning each of the four meetings last season. The Knicks have not swept the season series since 1998-99, when it took all three games.

"Those guys really put it to us for a long time. As long as I've been here, every time we played them it seemed like we lost," Knicks center Eddy Curry said after the last meeting, a 111-105 win on Jan. 16. "But as of late, last time we played them very well and tonight we played them very well. I think if nothing else we showed them that they're not going to be able to beat up on us every time they play us."

The Nets are tied with Indiana for ninth place in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot.

The Knicks enter this game with the second-worst record in the East and a hobbled lineup. Curry (knee) and Stephon Marbury (ankle) are done for the season, while Quentin Richardson (personal) and Nate Robinson (knee) missed Saturday's 114-93 defeat in Minnesota - New York's fourth straight loss.

Coach Isiah Thomas also benched forward Zach Randolph in order to give Randolph Morris playing time, but said Randolph would return against New Jersey.

The Knicks have dropped six straight at home - their worst such slide since losing six in a row Nov. 29-Dec. 20, 1986, and one defeat shy of the team single-season record set Nov. 26-Dec. 17, 1963. They haven't dropped seven in a row at MSG since an eight-game slump spanning two seasons, from March 28-Nov. 9, 1985.

"This is the NBA, and we are all professionals. We never disrespected them," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said after the Jan. 16 matchup. "We never came out and not played hard against them. We've had a couple of games come down to the wire, and they're the ones that made plays."

New Jersey has dropped three of four, including Saturday's 91-87 loss to Philadelphia. Vince Carter led New Jersey with 27 points, but Richard Jefferson was held to 11 on 3-for-15 shooting.

The defeat was New Jersey's ninth straight on the road - its longest such slump since dropping 11 in a row Jan. 19-March 2, 2001.

"We had a real good third quarter,'' coach Lawrence Frank said. "Our zone disrupted them a little bit, and Vince had a phenomenal attack. In the fourth quarter, they kind of flipped the script on us. Their pressure disrupted us.''

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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