Nets-Knicks Preview

While the surging Brooklyn Nets are aiming for the playoffs on their side of the East River, the lowly New York Knicks are shooting for ping-pong balls over in Manhattan. The Nets look to extend their season-best winning streak to five Wednesday night when they try to sweep the season series from the Knicks for the first time in eight years. Brooklyn (33-40) is in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, leading Boston by one-half game, Indiana by 1 1/2 and Charlotte by two. The Nets are also within striking distance of seventh place, trailing Miami by just a half-game. They've surged into the postseason picture with an 8-2 stretch after losing five in a row. Brooklyn won its fourth straight Tuesday with a key 111-106 victory over the Pacers, shooting 50.0 percent both overall and from 3-point range. "It's just a mentality, I guess, sense of urgency. Realizing we have a chance to make these playoffs and we're just trying to make a push," guard Deron Williams said. The Nets haven't won five straight games since Jan. 16-26, 2014, and last swept the season series with the Knicks in 2006-07. Brook Lopez was the key in winning the first three meetings, averaging 21.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. The center scored 22, pulled down nine boards and swatted six shots to lead Brooklyn to a 92-88 home win Feb. 6. He may be in line for another strong performance after averaging 28.1 points and 9.6 rebounds over the last seven games. Joe Johnson's production has also been impressive with 19.7 points and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 48.8 percent - 9 of 21 from long range - over the last three. The forward had 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals in a 98-93 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 2. While watching the Nets shoot for a third straight trip to the postseason, New York now has eight games left before ending the worst season in franchise history. The Knicks (14-60) clinched that dubious mark Saturday, losing 111-80 to Chicago to extend its slide to seven games. The only bright spot is their two-game lead on Minnesota for the worst record in the NBA and the best chance at winning the draft lottery. Langston Galloway, however, feels the team has other motivations, including the chance to play the role of spoiler against Brooklyn. "There's always a motivation to go out there and win, and regardless of the opponent we want to go out there and win," the guard said. "I know they have a good shot to make the playoffs, but at the same time they're our crosstown rival, so we want to try to get a win." The Knicks will likely need to show some life offensively. They're averaging 85.1 points and shooting 39.9 percent, including 29.2 from long range, during the skid. Andrea Bargnani can't be blamed since he's gone 17 for 35 from the field while totaling 39 points and 14 rebounds over the last two games. Injuries have sidelined the center in each of the last five meetings with the Nets. Ricky Ledo is slated to face Brooklyn for the first time after signing his second 10-day contract Sunday. The guard is averaging 7.2 points in 18.5 minutes per game in five games with the Knicks after scoring 11 on Saturday.