Knicks-Nets game finally will be played Monday night

Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets shoots against

Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets shoots against Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks during their game at the Nassau Coliseum. (Oct. 24, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Sunday's 98-85 win by the Nets over the Trail Blazers was a bridge to Monday's long-awaited Brooklyn vs. New York event at Barclays Center, the game that was supposed to start the season before being postponed by superstorm Sandy.

What to expect?

"It's big for people on the outside," Nets reserve Reggie Evans said. "But if we win, we're not going to be out on the court celebrating. We're not going to be popping no champagne. Just another game."

To Nets coach Avery Johnson, it will be "two really good teams. It's a game a lot of people have been waiting for. We're excited about it. We're at home. I know our guys are going to be jacked up and ready to play. That said, we've got to be ourselves. Play at our tempo, take care of the ball, be mentally and physically tough."

The Knicks are 9-3 and have the best record in the Atlantic Division. The Nets are just behind them at 8-4.

The general sense among NBA observers is that the two teams at last will become real rivals, based on the proximity of their homes, after years in which Knicks fans outnumbered Nets followers at the Nets' former New Jersey homes.

"We hope there'll be a difference," Deron Williams said. "I think there'll be a difference. I don't think it'll be as bad as last year. A lot of fans are looking forward to it, and obviously we are, too. Hopefully, it'll be a great rivalry for years to come."

Nets center Brook Lopez said he is "sure there'll be a number of Knicks fans here, but there's definitely going to be Nets fans as well. It's going to be a very interesting dynamic."

Forward Kris Humphries expects "more energy; each play is going to be bigger. The fans will be excited, but we have to treat it like just another game."

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