The Brooklyn Nets, who won a franchise-record 23 road games during the regular season, will take on the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday night at the United Center. The best-of-seven series is tied at 1.
Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. Here's what we'll be watching for:
ISO JOE A GO? We won't know until right before tipoff, since Joe Johnson is listed as a game-time decision due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Johnson aggravated the injury, which has lingered since February, in the first quarter of Game 2. He shot just 6-for-18 from the field in that game, disappearing in the second and third quarters.
Johnson sounds as though he's going to fight through it and play. The Nets need him. He is one of the team's best scorers and a go-to player in crunch time.
ADJUSTMENTS: The Nets shot a blistering 55.8 percent from the field in Game 1 but were limited to 35.4 percent shooting in Game 2. It's up to coach P.J. Carlesimo and his players to make the necessary adjustments against Chicago's tenacious defense. Ball movement and spacing are going to be key. So is Gerald Wallace, who had just two points in Game 2 after going for 14 in Game 1.
RELAX: That was Deron Williams' suggestion to reporters when asked about his 1-for-9 performance from the field in Game 2. D-Will was tough on himself after the game, saying he needs to play better, but vowed that it would be his only bad performance this postseason.
Williams was great in Game 1, scoring 22 points, dishing out seven assists and notching three steals. The Nets need their franchise point guard to return to his dominant, post-All-Star-break form if they're going to steal one on the road.
BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS: C.J. Watson and Nate Robinson don't like each other. They've admitted as much, and you can see it as they battle on the floor. Both backup point guards have played extremely well in this series. Carlesimo referred to Robinson as the X factor because of his ability to score and provide energy. Watson has been an asset off the bench for Brooklyn. His 3-point shooting has been consistent.
NOAH FACTOR: Bulls center Joakim Noah, battling through the same injury as Johnson, was a force in Game 2, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 25 minutes, basically on one foot. He made several key plays down the stretch. The Nets are going to have to do their best to limit his impact, though that's much easier said than done.