D-Will, Nets tired of being NY's JV team

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Deron Williams understands just how much Brooklyn Nets fans want their favorite team to be better than the hated New York Knicks.

“You can say we’ve been the JV [team in this area] at times,” Williams said Thursday.

So even though the players and coaches all downplay it, it would be big for the Nets to finish with a better record than the Knicks in their first season in Brooklyn.

“I think it definitely would mean a lot to clinch the division title to the fans, to the organization, I think it would be huge. There’s no doubt about that,” Williams said.

The Nets haven’t won the Atlantic Division since 2006. The franchise hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007. Brooklyn’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is four.

“It’s huge to get back to playing playoff basketball,” Williams said. “Some of these guys haven’t played playoff basketball. I think it means a lot to this franchise, especially in the first year being in Brooklyn. I think it means a lot to the city, so we will definitely be excited when it happens.”

The Nets (38-27) currently trail the Knicks (38-24) by 1 1/2 games in the division standings, but Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are hurt.

“You always can be an injury away and they got two of their key guys hurt,” Joe Johnson said. “It’s unfortunate for them but in this league, you can’t feel sorry for anybody. We’re not worried about them at this point. We’re going to come out and try to handle our business and play like Brooklyn Nets.”

“I think no matter what other teams do, just because they’ve got some guys out, the Knicks are still a good team and they can still win games,” Williams said. “We’ve got to focus on us. We can’t worry about what other teams are doing. That’s the main thing. We have to win the games that are in front of us and we need to win these next two before we go to the West Coast to kind of get that kick-started and make sure that we have a lot of confidence and feel good about ourselves going into the road trip.”

Johnson said he looks at the standings.

“I tend to peek every now and then,” he said. “You kind of want to gauge where you’re at and what it’s going to take to get where we’re trying to be. Yeah, I look at it quite often actually.”

As for finishing as the top team in New York?

“I know definitely being a New Yorker, being here for what, six or seven months, I understand how the fans feel about the Nets and the Knicks, so I know how important it is,” Johnson said.