W2W4: Nets vs. Knicks

The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks will battle for city bragging rights for the first time on Monday night at Barclays Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

THE CROWD: For years, Knicks fans used to take over Nets games in New Jersey. But that isn’t expected to be the case on Monday night. These two teams have been waiting to play this one for a while. It was supposed to be the season opener, but was postponed due to Sandy. No question the crowd will be into it. The Nets are 6-1 at home this season.

BATTLE FOR FIRST: Aside from the whole East River rivalry thing, these two teams find themselves in first and second place in the division, respectively, with New York (9-3) leading Brooklyn (8-4) by a game in the Atlantic. No division titles or playoff berths are going to be won on Monday night, but a victory is still important nonetheless.

CONTAINING MELO: Carmelo Anthony ranks third in the NBA in scoring (25.6 points per game). Expect versatile defender Gerald Wallace to get the assignment of guarding him. It may be tough for Kris Humphries to stay on the floor on Monday night given that the Knicks have been thriving with Melo playing the stretch power forward position.

POSTING UP: Brook Lopez (19 ppg on 55 percent shooting) has been Mr. Consistency for the Nets this season. Going up against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler should be a great test for Lopez as he looks to continue what has been an All-Star-worthy start to the 2012-13 campaign.

BROOKLYN’S BACKCOURT: Joe Johnson is starting to play well (40 points in his past two games), while Deron Williams continues to struggle from the field (27-for-82). Still, despite being banged up due to injury, D-Will has been impacting the game in other areas -- like doing a great job of quarterbacking the offense -- and it looks like the two backcourt mates are starting to get some real chemistry going. They’ve come a long way since the opener. Now it’s time for them to prove their worth in this one.