EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Brooklyn Nets will be halfway through the regular season after Monday afternoon's game. But they'll already be done with the New York Knicks.
The city rivals will clash for the fourth and final time during the regular season at Madison Square Garden. It remains to be seen whether they'll meet again in the playoffs.
"I wish it was spread out a little more," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said of the scheduling. "Hopefully there's a chance we'll meet again."
The Nets and Knicks squared off three times in less than a month, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19. The rescheduled season opener -- necessary because of Hurricane Sandy -- was partially responsible.
"The first three were too close," Carlesimo said. "I don't mind this one coming now, but the first three were too close. I wish it was spaced out a little better than it was."
The Nets (24-16) are 1-2 against the Knicks (25-13) this season.
"Who knows, this could be a first-round matchup," Johnson said. "But I know we are kind of far [removed] from that. But we at least want to split and see where it goes from there.
"They've won the last two, so we definitely want to come out and try to make a statement."
The Nets are a much more confident team now than they were the last time they faced the Knicks at MSG on Dec. 19.
"We understand what's at stake," Johnson said. "This is a big game, a division game. So, we've got to come prepared. They really handed it to us last time we played then in Madison Square, so we have to come focused and ready."
"Hopefully it's going to be a lot better game than the last time we were in the Garden," Carlesimo said. "Two of our last three games with the Knicks, one or both of us have been on back-to-backs. This time even though they're coming back from England, obviously we haven't played against Iman [Shumpert] yet, and we haven't played against Amar'e [Stoudemire], so they're a little bit different.
"Not having Raymond [Felton] is a little bit different. But they're playing very well. We don't need to hype our guys up for this: It's a division rival, it's the other team in the city, they've beaten us two out of three, so what more? It's Martin Luther King Day, it's the Garden, it's a big game for city basketball."