The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets have had very different weeks. The Mike Woodson-led Knicks continued their resurgence in the race for a playoff birth, going 4-1 while the Nets could only pull off a victory over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats for a 1-3 week.
Both teams will face a difficult week with the Knicks being dealt injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin and the Nets caught in between keeping PG Deron Williams happy and doing all they can to snag a top 3 pick in June's draft.
As the 2011-12 NBA season winds down, it's clear these two franchises are in very different places. Here is a look at the best and worst for each team over the last week.
SBNation New York Top 5
1. Amar'e Stoudemire
Unfortunately for the Knicks, this could be the last time Stoudemire finds himself in the "Top" of our rankings. With the news yesterday that he has a bulging disk in his back and is out indefinitely, the Knicks will have to move on without Stoudemire for now. It's even more crushing given Stoudemire's recent play. Last week, he really started to come around and looked as though he regained the "spring" and athleticism that many thought he had lost. Against the Sixers last Thursday, Stoudemire was the best player on the floor, leading the way with 21 points and chipping in defensively as well.
Chandler kept plugging along since our last rankings, staying consistent with scoring, rebounding and defense. In their last five games, the Knicks have given up an average of 84.2 points. The Knicks simply can't do that over any five-game stretch without Chandler patrolling the middle.
3. Deron Williams
Most of the Nets players may be mailing it in, but not Williams. He continues to play with fire every night, though that recently has meant showing more frustration than we are used to seeing. Over the last week Williams averaged over 18 points and nine assists, often single-handedly keeping New Jersey in games.
4. Jeremy Lin
Lin missed Monday's win over the Bucks with a knee injury, but it's not expected to be serious. That's a good thing for the Knicks, who will need Lin to pick up some of the offensive slack with Stoudemire out. In his four games since our last rankings, Lin wasn't spectacular but was efficient. In last Thurdsay's big win over the Sixers, Lin scored 16 fourth quarter points.
5. Gerald Green
The athletic Green continues to look like a keeper for the Nets. To go along with the nightly highlight-reel dunks, he has provided an offensive spark off the bench, picking up the slack for MarShon Brooks, who has hit the rookie wall. Last week Green averaged over 11 points per game, including a 20 point outburst against the Utah Jazz.
SBNation New York Bottom 5
If Mike Woodson's taking over for Mike D'Antoni had the wrong impact on anyone, it's Fields. He averaged just 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2 assists in the past five games, and Woodson almost always favors Iman Shumpert or J.R. Smith and the 2-guard in crucial minutes.
2. Baron Davis
Everybody railed against Jeremy Lin for turning the ball over, and he's essentially a rookie. The veteran Davis should be better at taking care of the ball, but he had more turnovers (20) than assists (18) since our last rankings. If Lin is out for any more time, Davis simply has to hold onto the ball better.
A groin injury could end his season, but it's safe to say no matter what he's had to deal with, Farmar has been a disappointment for the Nets. He returned for two games this week and in 28 minutes of action had three assists to go along with three turnovers. New Jersey's lack of any sort of legitimate backup PG has been a huge reason for losing close games thanks to the second unit's inability to hold the fort.
What did Toney Douglas do to the Knicks to get completely banished from the lineup? With Lin out Monday, Mike Bibby played 12 minutes backing up Davis. There's no rationale for that.
5. Johan Petro
After a season of teasing, Nets head coach Avery Johnson may finally be on the verge of eliminating Petro from the lineup. Rookie Jordan Williams has taken on an increased role off the bench and should allow the front court to operate without the services of the disappointing center.
19. New York Knicks
Just when the Knicks make it seem like it's all clicking, they do something like "lose to the Raptors." It's just the Knick way.
27. New Jersey Nets
But they beat the Bobcats! (Oh, god.)