Isaiah Hartenstein on Upcoming Knicks-Nets Matchup: ‘Is There a Rivalry?’

NBA: New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With the New York Knicks scheduled to take on the Brooklyn Nets in their next outing, one emboldened Knicks player doesn’t view the crosstown franchise as a rival.

Per Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein downplayed the Nets and the reliability of the Brooklyn fanbase to dominate the Barclay’s Center whenever they come to town, saying:

“Is there a rivalry? I mean, I don’t feel it,” Hartenstein, the Knicks center, said. “I mean, most of the time we go to Barclays it’s mostly Knicks fans so I don’t know if it’s really a rivalry at this point.”

Knicks Saw Success Against Young Nets Squad After Last Year’s Trade Deadline

The Knicks split their four-game season series against the Nets last year, coming out victorious in the latter two matchups.

The Nets saw a shift in their roster after the trade deadline as they said goodbye to All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and welcomed in a host of new young talent including Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Dorian Finney-Smith.

In their Feb. 18 matchup, the Knicks clamped down on defense and held Bridges to seven points on the affair as Spencer Dinwiddie was the only Nets player to get going with a 28-point showing. Less than two weeks later, the Knicks hung 142 points on the Nets and had six players score in double figures. Brunson combined for 79 points in both outings.

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A Superstar Core Was Not Enough For the Nets to Win Over NYC

Even with Durant and Irving in Brooklyn, the Knicks have owned the hearts of the fans in the city of New York as a whole. This comes in addition to the Nets struggling to fill seats in accordance with the breadth of their market.

According to Bet MGM, the Nets averaged 17,669 fans per home game in 2022-23, which ranked No. 16 among all teams. Contrastingly, the Knicks averaged 19,392 fans per night at Madison Square Garden which is only half an hour away from the Barclays Center.

Hartenstein’s Words Will be Put to the Test in Tough Matchup Against Nets’ Claxton

The Knicks have played well this season, as have the Nets, who sit at 13-13. Bitter rivalry or not, the Nets have seven players averaging double figures in scoring and are led this year by the emerging Cam Thomas and his 24.4 points per night. Hartenstein will have his hands full against last year’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate Nic Claxton as he and the Knicks strive to improve to 16-11 overall.