Brooklyn Nets looking to swipe first place from New York Knicks

Bruce Bennett

At 8-4, the Nets are one game out of first place in the Atlantic Division. The team in front of them just happens to be their friends from Manhattan, the New York Knicks.

Right now, life is good for the Brooklyn Nets.

They're winners of seven out of nine games, five straight on their home court -- where the support has been loud and enthusiastic, a far cry from the two dormant seasons in Newark -- and shown a killer instinct in their last two wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers. In the fourth quarter of those victories, the Nets have outscored their opponents 51-28 while slapping both teams by double digits.

At 8-4, the Nets are one game out of first place in the Atlantic Division. The team in front of them just happens to be their friends from Manhattan, the New York Knicks. And the teams just happen to have a rescheduled contest on Monday at the Barclays Center. Emotions have run high with the Nets doing their share of talking all summer, but they enter the showdown with eyes on the prize that is the Atlantic Division penthouse.

"That’s why it's a big game," said Nets point guard Deron Williams. "It's not just because it's the Knicks, it's because they have (one of the) best record(s) in the East, and they're a tough team, so it's a good game for that purpose."

Williams had 15 points, 12 assists, four blocked shots and three steals, leading the Nets to a 98-85 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday, allowing them to enter the Knicks game with tremendous momentum. Unlike Knicks-Nets games in New Jersey that were dominated by Knicks fans cheering against the home team, the Nets are expecting Monday's crowd to be Brooklyn strong.

"I'm sure it's going to be a hostile environment for them," said Nets guard Joe Johnson. "Everybody's been waiting for this moment, and we're gonna try to come out and protect our home court."

Game time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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