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Brooklyn Nets look forward to rivalry game vs. New York Knicks

Kenny Atkinson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson admits there's a bit of local pride at stake on Thursday

BROOKLYN – Kenny Atkinson doesn’t do coach speak when it comes to the New York Knicks.

“It’s different. I’m not going to say it’s just another game. It’s New York,” the Nets head coach insisted. “It’s Mets-Yankees, Giants-Jets. I think it’s cool for the fans and for us.”

Like many in the New York City-area, Atkinson is a huge local sports fan and loves the excitement that comes out of rivalries across the boroughs. He enjoys living in a city that has two sports teams in every professional sport and proudly admits he’s closely follows intercity games.

“I loved it growing up as a fan and I continue to,” he said. “If there’s a Yankees-Mets game, I’m watching it.”

Since the move to Brooklyn, Nets are 11-10 against their cross-bridge rivals, while the Knicks hold a slight edge in the all-time series lead at 95-93. The Nets especially play the Knicks well at home, winning their six of their last seven games against the team at Barclays Center. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson admits that there’s definitely a sense of local pride when the two sides meet.

“Afar as competing for Brooklyn, we stand proud and we got Brooklyn behind us so in that sense yeah [it is a big rivalry],” Hollis-Jefferson said.

However, the third-year player admits the focus is more on the win then local bragging rights. And with good reason. Both teams are trying to make it back into the postseason, which should intensify things on Thursday when the two sides face off.

“When it comes down to matchups and competing, I feel like if I’m more aggressive and our starting five is more aggressive, then we have the advantage,” he said.

Sounds like the rivalry might be rounding back into form. 

"There’s always a heightened interest when it comes to these games. I enjoy it, it’s fun," Atkinson said. 

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