In the first playoff game in Brooklyn Nets history, the Nets crushed the Chicago Bulls 106-89. The game was not close at all from the opening moments and the Nets led by as many as 28 points. The Nets got a very balanced effort as 6 players scored in double figures. Deron Williams led the way with 22 points and 7 assists. Brook Lopez has 21 and Joe Johnson had 16. Carlos Boozer scored 25 points for Chicago.
The Nets got off to a great start in this game thanks to Brook Lopez. Lopez had 12 points on 6-6 shooting from the foul line in the first quarter alone. He also had 2 blocks in the quarter to lead the Nets on defense. Brooklyn led 25-14 after 1 quarter. In the second quarter, it was more of the same. The Nets’ bench came in and continued to play well. C.J. Watson scored 10 points in the quarter on 4-5 shooting. At the end of the quarter, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez returned and completely took over the game. Against the vaunted Bulls’ defense, Brooklyn led 60-35 at halftime. The Bulls rarely give up more than 50 points in a half. The Nets shot 60% in the first half while Chicago shot only 37%. The Nets outrebounded the Bulls 24-15.
Even though the Nets have struggled in third quarters all season long, that was not the case tonight. The Nets outscored the Bulls by 2 in the third to lead 89-62 after 3. Deron had a monster reverse dunk at the end of the quarter to put an exclamation point on game 1. In the fourth quarter, the Nets kept their starters in to prevent any chance of a comeback. Chicago cut into Brooklyn’s lead a bit, but never threatened at all to win the game.
The Nets dominated the Bulls in every way possible tonight. They shot an exceptional 56% from the field while they held Chicago to just 47%. They shot 82% from the foul line while the Bulls shot only 68%. The Nets had a total of only 8 turnovers, which will be one of the keys in this series. If the Nets don’t turn the ball over, they should win this series easily.
Even though this was a great win in the first playoff game in Brooklyn, the Nets need to be careful. The Bulls will quickly erase this game from their mind and come back prepared for game 2. The Nets can’t just assume that they will sweep Chicago in this series, even though it may have looked like that tonight. Chicago has been very resilient all year and they never give up. The series is not over and Chicago still has a chance to win.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: B-
Reggie didn’t have one of his best games, but he was good enough. Defensively, he was not terrible, but Carlos Boozer did score 25 points. Many of those came off of contested looks, however. Rebounding-wise, Reggie had 13, which is good for most players, but below average for the post all-star break Reggie. He only attempted three field goals and he hit two of them.
Gerald Wallace: A+
Nobody expected this from Gerald Wallace. After an April where he rarely scored more than 2 points in a game, Wallace exploded for 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks tonight. He played great defense on Luol Deng and made a couple of great defensive plays. He was 5-7 from the field and even hit a 3! If Wallace can play offense like this and continue playing defense like he always has, the Nets will win this series easily.
Brook Lopez: A
Lopez did exactly what he needed to tonight. He got off to a great start where he was controlling the paint on defense and getting to the foul line on offense. He set the tone for the game and had a couple of thunderous dunks. He did not do too much in the second half, but the Nets did not need much from him. He finished with 21 points and 3 blocks.
Deron Williams: A+
This was a statement game for Deron Williams. He has been disrespected way too much this season and he proved a lot of people wrong with how well he played tonight. Deron had 22 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals on 9-15 shooting. He also had the huge reverse dunk at the end of the third quarter, which was a dagger to Chicago. In the second quarter, Deron was running his semi-fastbreak offense, which was getting the Nets tons of open looks in the paint. This is the Deron Williams the Nets want to see.
Joe Johnson: B
Joe was not very involved tonight, but with Deron and Brook rolling, they didn’t need much from Joe. He finished the game with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was 7-13 from the field and 2-5 from 3. Many of his points came in the fourth quarter when the game was essentially over. If the Nets offense is playing this well, they don’t need isolations from Joe Johnson. That is their B plan if for some reason they are not working the two-man game with Deron and Brook well. The Nets will need Joe later on in this series.
C.J. Watson: A
With Deron Williams on the bench, C.J. Watson stepped up and played just as well. He was 6-8 from the field and played well on both offense and defense. C.J. played very poorly in the playoffs last season with Chicago. Today, he played great against them.
Andray Blatche: B
Blatche had his typical game, making some very difficult and strange looking shots. He was 6-11 from the field and had 3 rebounds. With Joakim Noah not healthy, the Bulls are undersized in this series. A Blatche-Lopez lineup could cause havoc later on in the series because Chicago doesn’t have anybody to guard either player.
Game 2 of this series will be on Monday night in Brooklyn. FRWD will have full coverage of the game and the rest of this series.