- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Brooklyn Nets won a franchise-record 23 road games this season. And they’re hoping that success away from Barclays Center will carry into the playoffs.
The Nets, who had their first winning season on the road in franchise history, will take on the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Thursday night at United Center.
“Just being poised on the road, being confident,” Joe Johnson replied when asked why the Nets have been so successful away from home. “We understand that if you wanna be a good team in this league, at some point, you have to go out on the road and win games.
“It just kind of is what it is, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us and I’m sure guys are going to be prepared for it.”
“I don’t think we’re bothered [by playing on the road],” interim coach P.J. Carlesimo added. “Maybe because we have a veteran team, I don’t know. ... Some teams it’s almost better when it’s a real hostile environment. Sometimes that motivates you a little bit. Maybe it helps our focus. Maybe going in on the road, particularly against good teams, guys know that maybe they’ve got to tighten their focus. I’m really not sure what it is, but for whatever reason we’re a really good road team and we need for that continue.”
The Nets have had plenty of memorable road victories in 2012-13. There was the Skirmish in Boston, Johnson’s go-ahead jumper at MSG, Deron Williams’ triumph in Dallas and two gutsy wins over Indiana. But the one that really stands out is their 110-93 victory on Jan. 2 in Oklahoma City.
It was just their fourth game under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo and they were coming off a 31-point loss in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve.
“It kind of got us going and got us started,” D-Will said. “That’s probably the one I’d circle.”
“I think it was big for us as a team, especially with (just) losing our head coach,” C.J. Watson added. “I think our team chemistry came together in that game.”
The Nets worked so hard to secure homecourt advantage in the first round, but lost it when the Bulls won Game 2 on Monday and evened the best-of-7 series at a game apiece.
“It’s going to be a hostile environment and it should be fun,” Williams said. “This is what the playoffs are all about. They came into our building and beat us, and now we have to try and return the favor.”
They can’t afford not to.
“We obviously got to get at least one,” Johnson said. “We gave away our home court now and we’ve got to get that back by winning at least one in Chicago.”
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