The Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers were the only two Eastern Conference clubs that entered December with winning records. In the woeful Atlantic division, the biggest surprise is that two teams who some observers felt could make some noise in the playoffs this year are instead languishing in the cellar and struggling under the spotlight.

The Brooklyn Nets made some of the biggest waves of the off-season by acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry. With a strong core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, the Nets were immediately thrust into being contenders one year after a disappointing seventh game loss and first round exit in the playoffs. After replacing Avery Johnson early last season, Brooklyn did not bring back P.J. Carlesimo as head coach. Instead, the team turned to one of the franchise’s former stars, Jason Kidd.

In his first year coaching, however, Kidd has seen his team stumble out of the gate. Losers of eight of their last 10, the Nets are dealing with early injuries to an older lineup and allowing the sixth most points per game in the NBA. On December 3, ESPN reported that Kidd had reassigned his lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank to a reduced role “doing daily reports, but no longer sitting on the bench. The move has added to the growing doubt about how well Kidd would handle his rookie year as a head coach.

There is another coach already on the hot seat on the other side of the Big Apple as the New York Knicks have lost nine straight and own one of the worst records in the league at 3-13. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told ESPN the team is worried about Mike Woodson’s job security, but “stick together” and control the locker room. There have been signs of rocky relationships within the team after Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin got into a “heated” argument during a team workout and Iman Shumpert was caught on camera yelling at Anthony. Steve Kyler of authored a column entitled, “Are The Knicks Imploding?”

New York is coming off of a year in which the Knicks finally won a playoff series for the first time since 2000, and there was hope that maybe they would go even deeper this year. Instead, a devastating tibula injury to Tyson Chandler has hampered the thrown a wrench in the early season chemistry trying to incorporate newly acquired seven-footer Andrea Bargnani. While New York’s defense is allowing the 10th fewest points per game in the league, the Knicks are sixth worst in both points and rebounds per game.

The additional pressure on New York to win now is amplified with the possibility that Anthony’s free agency status at the end of the season could mean that he’s playing his final games at Madison Square Garden unless he returns in a visitor’s uniform. Much like Brooklyn is hoping to get one last push at a title from its own group of aging veterans, the Knicks were a team that odds had battling the Nets for dominance atop the Atlantic. Thus far, it has instead been two teams trying to establish some sort of consistency as two seeming locks for the playoffs are instead flirting with draft lottery ping pong balls.