Who is feeling the heat?
IT'S ON HIS SHOULDERS
Carmelo Anthony, entering season No. 3 with the Knicks, is under more pressure than any other NBA player, coach or executive in New York to make this a successful season.
Anyone associated with the Nets is playing with house money entering the team's first season in Brooklyn. With a new arena, new uniform and plenty of new faces, the Nets will be afforded a honeymoon period. If they struggle and finish, say, seventh or eighth in the conference, no one will completely lose faith in them.
But it's a little different with Anthony. He has gone through his first full training camp in New York and is fully healthy, so there are no built-in excuses heading into his first full 82-game season with the Knicks.
And there's this: Fair or not, the perception is that Anthony wanted Mike D'Antoni and Jeremy Lin out of town. Both are gone, and Anthony has a coach, Mike Woodson, whom he gets along with, and a group of veterans ready and willing to play roles in support of him.
So, relatively speaking, things are set up nicely for Anthony.
But if the Knicks stumble early on, particularly with Amar'e Stoudemire expected to be out for at least six weeks, blame could fall on Anthony's shoulders.
The Knicks have a tough early schedule. After their opener against the Nets, they play eight straight games against teams that made the playoffs last season. So it won't be easy for Anthony.
Don't get me wrong: It's not as if anyone realistically expects the Knicks to win the NBA title this season. So Anthony's under pressure to make this season a success, not a miracle.
But more than anyone else in New York, it's on Anthony to make it happen.
Ian Begley covers the Knicks for ESPNNewYork.com.
WIN OR GO HOME?
Avery Johnson wasn't used to losing -- until he started coaching the Nets.
Johnson came to New Jersey as the coach with the highest regular-season winning percentage in NBA history.
But two seasons later, that's no longer the case. Since he took over the reins in 2010-11, the Nets have gone 46-102.
Johnson has a much-improved $83.5 million roster to work with this season in Brooklyn, so clearly he's more upbeat. At the same time, he's in the final year of his contract, so the pressure is on to get the Nets into the playoffs -- and possibly further.
The only way that's going to happen is if the Nets jell quickly and become better defensively. And it's up to Johnson to make sure that happens.
The Nets have nine newcomers, so establishing a rotation and distinct roles is going to be paramount to their success. Just as paramount, of course, is making sure their opponents don't outscore them.
Johnson is known as a defensive coach, yet the Nets were historically bad at times last season. They don't exactly have a lot of defensive stoppers, so Johnson must get his players to buy in to getting it done on that end of the floor as a team if they're really going to finish in the top third in the league on defense.
Yes, Carmelo Anthony is under a ton of pressure to make New York Knicks fans forget about the heroics of Jeremy Lin and lead them on a deep postseason run. But Anthony has long-term security and gets to actually affect the game on the court.
Johnson? He can only watch as Brook Lopez attempts to grab a rebound or defend the paint.
Must be a helpless feeling.
For the first time in his tenure, Johnson's Nets are expected to win. He might end up without a job if they don't.
Mike Mazzeo covers the Nets for ESPNNewYork.com.