With the series tied at 1 game apiece, the Brooklyn Nets head to Chicago to face the Bulls in a pivotal game 3 Thursday night. In order to have a real chance at winning this series, Brooklyn will need to win at least one game on the road in Chicago out of the next two to avoid being down 3-1 in their first round series.
We all know what has happened in the first two games of the series. The Nets won easily in game 1 in the first game in Brooklyn Nets playoff history. Then, in game 2, the Bulls fought back because of great defense and the heart of Joakim Noah. The Nets’ offense was bad and they missed some very makable shots, but the Bulls deserve a lot of the credit. They held Deron Williams to arguably his worst game of the whole season, shooting 1-9 from the field, while Joe Johnson also was unable to get going.
Now, the Nets are the team that needs to make some major adjustments after Chicago did just that after game 1. Even though Chicago has been a tough place to play in the past, the Bulls are only 24-17 at home this year while the Nets are 23-18 on the road. Of course, the home court atmosphere is always picked up in the playoffs, but Brooklyn has proven that it is good enough to win in just about any NBA environment this season, from Oklahoma City to Manhattan (although they went 0-2 in Chicago).
Of course, injuries will be a factor tonight, and not only Chicago injuries. Joe Johnson is officially listed as a game-time decision for the game, even though everybody expects him to play. Like Joakim Noah, Joe is suffering from plantar fasciitis, which flared up in game 2, possibly causing him to miss many of the shots he usually makes. Expect this to be a problem for Johnson for the remainder of the playoffs, because this injury does not go away without rest. For Chicago, Joakim Noah will be on a minute restriction again, but that did not prevent him from making an impact in game 2. Brook Lopez really needs to make a big effort in boxing out Noah on the offensive glass and not giving the Bulls second chance opportunities. Derrick Rose is not expected to play.
It is the Nets’ turn to make adjustments, and they will do that tonight. I predict they will win game 3 95-88, silencing what is sure to be a hostile crowd in Chicago. Deron Williams will play very well and he will look completely different from the player he was in game 2. If the Nets don’t find a way to win, the series is not over, but game 4 will be do-or-die. For Brooklyn to avoid that uncomfortable situation, get a road win tonight.
This game will start at 8:30 eastern and only be televised on My9 in New York and it will not be televised on any national television station except for NBA TV. If you do not have NBA TV and wish to watch the game online, contact FRWD via twitter and we will hook you up with a link.