Chicago Bulls: Brooklyn Nets

3 Points: Nets now a bigger threat to Bulls?

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
12:00
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Joe JohnsonAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhThe Bulls are 2-1 against a Nets team that is 30-13 since the calendar turned to 2014.
Every week, ESPNChicago.com Bulls writer Nick Friedell is joined by two other ESPN writers to weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Chicago Bulls followers.

1. Would the Nets be a bigger threat to the Bulls in a first-round matchup compared to last season?


Nick Friedell: Yes. They have more of a veteran presence, and Jason Kidd seems to have found more of a rhythm as coach. But the difference is that the Bulls are also a better team than they were a year ago. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are playing the best basketball of their careers, and D.J. Augustin has become a closer for a team that was in desperate need of one. Combine those factors with the reality that Tom Thibodeau still runs one of the best defenses in the league, and it's easy to understand why the Bulls would still be the favorite in that series.

SportsNation

If the season ended today, the Bulls would play the Nets in the first round. Who wins?

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    86%
  •  
    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,525)

Jon Greenberg: Given the relative good health of the Bulls right now, I'd say no. Remember, the Bulls were up 3-1 on Brooklyn after the "Nate Robinson game." But that would be the last game that Luol Deng (botched spinal tap) and Kirk Hinrich (calf injury) would play. Unless their opponent is LeBron James or Kevin Durant or the Spurs, the Bulls' biggest foe is the Bulls. As well as the Nets are playing now that they're in harmony, I think the Bulls, who won two out of three against Brooklyn this season, can take them. It might take seven games again, but as we know, this team rebounds quite well from losses. Since Jan. 1, they've lost consecutive games just once, road defeats at New Orleans and Sacramento. While Robinson's heroics were crucial last year, Augustin is a much better point guard and Chicago's finest, Noah and Gibson, can carry a team.

Scoop Jackson: Yes. They've found their flow and to be honest, it's a little scary. Since the day 2014 began (or since Kidd stopped wearing ties), they are 30-13, playing like one of the best teams in the NBA. And they've been doing it for the most part with Kevin Garnett "resting" with an injury that, come playoff time, might be a blessing in disguise. The other thing that should be of concern to the Bulls when it comes to the Nets is payback. The Nets have a deep incentive to beat the Bulls to make up for the embarrassment the Bulls put on them last year in the playoffs. That alone will make the Nets tougher this time around. That, and the fact that this time they'll be playing with a sense of purpose and pride. Two things that were nonexistent last year.


2. Have the recent struggles of the Pacers changed your opinion of the Bulls' chances against them in the playoffs?


Friedell: No, because I've always believed the Bulls had a solid chance to beat Indiana. The Bulls are not scared of the Pacers, and they are confident they can beat them in a seven-game series. That confidence has never wavered. The Pacers' recent struggles have only reinforced that confidence.

[+] EnlargePaul George
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul George's Pacers were just 8-10 in March, including a loss to the Bulls.
Greenberg: Yes, of course. Teams that struggle like this don't just magically rebound once the postseason begins. It's possible, yes, but this is a broken, dysfunctional team. Before the Pacers' last game in Chicago, reporters were buzzing about team meetings and the general distrust that had mutated in the locker room. Getting rid of Danny Granger for Evan Turner was a chemistry backfire. Maybe Andrew Bynum can host a team bowling night? Could the Pacers avoid the gutter, though? Indiana can't score on anyone right now, least of all the Bulls, who scored an easy 89-77 win last week. Once the Bulls got rolling, it was clear they could at least drag Indiana through a long playoff series. Now, you wonder if the Bulls could close them out in six.

Scoop Jackson: Nope. In the end, I still believe that the Pacers have enough individual offense (and play respectable enough defense) to beat the Bulls in a seven-game series. But I do now believe that when that series ends, we will all walk away feeling that the Pacers didn't deserve to win the series, which is something I can say I didn't feel a few months ago. Unlike the Nets of last year, there is a sense of pride inside that Pacers locker room and organization, and at some point during the playoffs, it will kick in. David West will make sure of that. The question is, though, will that pride be enough to get them past another team once the Bulls put that pride to the ultimate test?


3. What will be the Bulls' biggest shortcoming in the playoffs?


Friedell: The lack of an elite-level, go-to scorer down the stretch. Superstars win in the playoffs, specifically players who can create and score whenever they want. As great as Noah and Augustin have been this season, neither have the type of offensive game to consistently create and score in big moments against the likes of LeBron and Dwyane Wade.

[+] EnlargeDJ Augustin
AP Photo/Michael DwyerD.J. Augustin's ability to create his own shot has been a boon to the Bulls since they signed him in December.
Greenberg: Easy, scoring. Or shooting. Shooting and scoring. This team struggles with offense in general. The Bulls have lost 14 times since Jan. 1, and they scored 90 or more points in only three of those losses. While scoring is the Bulls' most famous shortcoming, it's not impossible for this team to score. In the Bulls' 19 wins in February and March, they've averaged 100 points. But like everything else with this team, it starts with defense. When the Bulls get on the run (see the YouTube video of Noah on the break set to "Born to Run"), they're fairly dangerous. But in a grind-it-out, half-court game, they need to be clicking, in rhythm, as Noah runs the offense from the top of the key. It'll be interesting to see how the Bulls rise to the challenge in the postseason.

Jackson: In one sentence? Not having an Option 1/Alpha Dawg/Hype Beast scorer to regularly dig them out of those double-digit deficits they are going to find themselves in during the playoffs. A player who has the ability, consistency and pedigree to drop 20-23 points in every game regardless of who they are playing and can counter LeBron if they face Miami and/or Paul George if they face Indiana and/or the Joe Johnson/Deron Williams/Paul Pierce trio if they face Brooklyn. Other than that, I really don't think any other shortcoming exists.

Game 7 win a defining one for Thibodeau

May, 5, 2013
5/05/13
1:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- There was never a doubt in Tom Thibodeau's mind that his Chicago Bulls would win Game 7.

As the veteran coach hobbled out of the John Jay Gymnasium after Saturday morning he looked over and said, "I hope you packed for six days."

That's the same message he imparted to his team. Thibodeau's maniacal drive to succeed draws chuckles from fans sometimes, but it's more than just a mantra for the coach who worked his way up the NBA totem pole for over two decades as an assistant.

Thibodeau's desire and his refusal to use injuries or illnesses as an excuses continue to rub off on his team. The rest of the basketball world scoffed at Thibodeau's words over the past few days, when he uttered his standard line that the Bulls had "more than enough to win with," despite the fact they were playing without Luol Deng (illness), Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Derrick Rose (knee). But if people were still doubting that Thibodeau has the ability to squeeze the maximum out of his roster, let this 99-93 win over the Brooklyn Nets on the playoff stage serve as a guide.

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With reason to crumble, Bulls stand tallest

May, 5, 2013
5/05/13
12:33
AM CT
Windhorst By Brian Windhorst
ESPN.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- John Paxson's face was red with emotion as he stepped out of the Chicago Bulls locker room moments after his team had pulled off the most remarkable feat yet in this postseason.

In the hallway the Bulls' president met his former teammate Steve Kerr, who had just called the game for TNT. Between the two of them, they've slipped on six championship rings playing for the Bulls and celebrated dozens of playoff victories, many with much more on the line than the game they just witnessed. But even as sidekicks to the great Michael Jordan, Paxson and Kerr never pulled off what the current Bulls did Saturday night.

"That was one for the ages," Kerr told Paxson.

The Bulls won a road Game 7, overcoming the loss of two starters (not including Derrick Rose) to stun the heavy favorite Brooklyn Nets, 99-93. It was the first time in the Bulls' long, storied history they'd ever done it and they did it under outrageous circumstances.

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Marco Belinelli ties his season best

May, 5, 2013
5/05/13
12:28
AM CT
Ehalt By Matt Ehalt
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
[+] EnlargeMarco Belinelli, Brook Lopez
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Bulls' Marco Belinelli shoots against the Nets' Brook Lopez in Game 7. Belinelli finished with 24 points.
NEW YORK -- When Marco Belinelli signed with the Chicago Bulls in the offseason, the pursuit of a ring resonated deeply with the veteran shooting guard. He craved advancement in the postseason.

Saturday night, Belinelli made sure he'd continue that quest.

Belinelli tied his season-high, and the game-high, with 24 points, and helped guide the Bulls to a 99-93 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7 on Saturday night. Belinelli hit several clutch 3-pointers during the game, and perhaps more important, matched Brooklyn star Deron Williams point for point.

"I wanted to win this game so bad. I have never been to the semifinals, conference finals," Belinelli said. "I'm going to be the first Italian guy that is going to play in the second round. I'm happy. I just love this team."

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Bulls win first ever Game 7 on road

May, 4, 2013
5/04/13
11:50
PM CT
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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For the first time since Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round, the Chicago Bulls won a “winner-take-all” game on the road. It is the first time the Bulls won a Game 7 on the road in franchise history going 0-6 previously.

The Brooklyn Nets failed in their attempt to become the ninth team in NBA history to win a series after falling behind three games to one. The Nets fall to 0-2 all-time in Game 7s and have not won a playoff series since 2007.

Read the entire story.

Rapid Reaction: Bulls 99, Nets 93

May, 4, 2013
5/04/13
9:47
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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NEW YORK -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls pulled out a 99-93 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to win the series, 4-3.

How it happened: Joakim Noah played one of the best games of his career, scoring 24 points, pulling down 14 rebounds and blocking six shots in a game many pundits were counting the Bulls out of since they were playing without Derrick Rose (knee), Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf injury). Marco Belinelli also had a huge game. He knocked down several key shots down the stretch and finished with 22 points and five rebounds. Nate Robinson added 12 points, four assists and four rebounds. Deron Williams had 24 points to lead Brooklyn, but the Nets couldn't knock down shots when they needed them most. The Bulls did.

What it means: This is the defining win of the Tom Thibodeau era. He never doubted that his team would win this series, and this game, despite all the injuries. Noah played like a man possessed and set the tone that the rest of his teammates followed. He was the one who said the Bulls would win this game and he backed up his talk. The Bulls knew most picked them to lose and wanted to prove that they could still find a way. They battled all night and played with the type of passion that set them apart throughout the year. It didn't matter who was on the floor, they all contributed something and did what they had to do. No matter what happens from here on out this season, Thibodeau and his team should take pride in the fact they won this series despite all the adversity they faced.

Hits: After not playing for much of the past two months, Marquis Teague came in and played 14 big minutes, scoring four points and dishing out three assists.

Misses: The Nets lost a Game 7 at home to a team playing without its superstar and two of its most important players. Thibodeau's team proved on this night that sometimes heart and hustle are more important than talent.

Stat of the night: Chicago shot 55.3 percent in the first half and turned the ball over just eight times.

What's next: The Bulls head south to face off against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 is Monday night in Miami.

Video: Bulls-Nets Game 7 preview

May, 4, 2013
5/04/13
6:39
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com


Chris Mullin breaks down his keys for the Nets and Bulls going into their Game 7 matchup.

Deng (flu) back in ER, doubtful for Game 7

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
1:46
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng tweeted that he was "the weakest I've ever felt" from a viral flu that forced him to miss a Game 6 loss to the Brooklyn Nets and said symptoms worsened Friday morning, leading to a trip to the emergency room, casting doubt on his status for Game 7 on Saturday.

Read the entire story.

Nets scrap with Bulls, force Game 7

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
9:40
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Survival mode means doing whatever it takes to see another day, and so it was that the Brooklyn Nets forced a Game 7 by playing with their backs to the wall, their foot to the pedal and ultimately their crash helmets on.

Against a Chicago Bulls team hobbled by injury and illness, the Nets were less interested in showing sympathy than pushing the tempo, at least in the first half, anyway.

Read the entire story.

Blatche big again off the bench for Nets

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
9:39
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Brooklyn Nets’ Andray Blatche was standing tall, both literally and figuratively, by the end of a season-saving victory Thursday night.

Hardly the first option of the Nets’ offense, especially down the stretch, Blatche was every bit as big as his 6-foot-11 frame, scoring five points in the final 1:15 to get his team to a deciding Game 7 against the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

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Joakim Noah: 'We're going to win'

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
1:18
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah wanted to make it clear what he believes will happen when his beleaguered Chicago Bulls face off against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7 on Saturday night.

"We're a team of fighters," Noah said after the Bulls' 95-92 loss in Game 6 on Thursday night. "We keep getting punched in the face but we fight back. I'm proud of this team, and we're going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn and we're going to win."

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Rapid Reaction: Nets 95, Bulls 92

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
10:12
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Brooklyn Nets pulled out a 95-92 win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at the United Center in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The series is tied 3-3.

How it happened: Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams each scored 17 points as the Nets squeaked out the win. Playing without Luol Deng (ill) and Kirk Hinrich (calf injury) proved to be too much for the Bulls to overcome. The Bulls missed far too many solid looks down the stretch and couldn't find a consistent rhythm in the second half. Marco Belinelli led the Bulls with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds but it wasn't enough for Tom Thibodeau's battered bunch.

What it means: Sometimes heart and hustle just isn't enough. The Bulls gave everything they had to try and close out this series but they didn't have enough difference makers down the stretch to make big plays. Thibodeau has to be extremely proud of his team's effort, especially given the injuries and the illnesses, but the reality is that the Bulls had their chances to win this one and just couldn't close the door. Now they face a Game 7 in which Hinrich and Deng are questionable at best with an offense that continues to lose its way at crucial moments. Nobody should count the Bulls out given their fighting spirit, but talent usually beats toughness, especially when the Bulls’ biggest talents are struggling to even get on the floor.

Hits: Joakim Noah had 14 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in 43 minutes. The minutes limit that was imposed on him during the first part of this series because of plantar fasciitis is obviously long gone.

Misses: Taj Gibson came into this series battling a knee injury and he came into this game battling the flu, but he has not been able to help the Bulls much over the last few weeks. He spent Game 6 in foul trouble and scored just three points in 17 minutes.

Stat of the night: Bench scoring: The Nets outscored the Bulls 27-7.

What's next: Game 7 is Saturday night in Brooklyn.

Bulls' Hinrich 'likely out' vs. Nets

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
11:35
AM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, still hampered by a bruised left calf, is "likely out" of Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Read the entire story.

Hinrich (calf) day-to-day for Game 6

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
1:10
PM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich "didn't do much" at practice on Wednesday and is considered a game-time decision for Game 6 against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday with a bruised left calf, according to coach Tom Thibodeau.

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Backups kept Bulls in game until end

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
11:12
PM CT
Darcy By Kieran Darcy
ESPNNewYork.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- The Chicago Bulls lost Game 5 – but you can’t blame the replacements.

[+] EnlargeNate Robinson
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsThe Bulls' Nate Robinson drives on the Nets' C.J. Watson on Monday.
With Derrick Rose continuing to sit, and fellow starting guard Kirk Hinrich joining him on the sideline with a calf injury, coach Tom Thibodeau gave Nate Robinson a starting nod on Monday, along with second-year man Jimmy Butler.

Both played well, keeping the Bulls within striking distance until the final four minutes, when the Nets pulled away for a 110-91 victory.

Robinson scored a team-high 20 points, shooting 9-for-19 from the field, and also had eight assists. Butler scored 18 points, and had four steals as well.

Thibodeau said that rebounding was the difference in the game. The Nets outboarded the Bulls 44-33, including 17-11 on the offensive glass, and had a 24-12 advantage in second-chance points.

“Right from the start of the game I knew [the Nets] were reacting to the ball quicker than we were,” Thibodeau said. “So I was concerned about that right from the beginning. And it never changed.”

Robinson received the loudest boos of any of Chicago’s five starters during the pregame introductions -- not surprising, considering he sparked the Bulls’ incredible comeback in Game 4 with an electrifying 34-point performance, including 23 points in the fourth quarter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5