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Monday, April 22, 2013
W2W4: Nets vs. Bulls, Game 2

By MIke Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday night when they face the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Here's what we'll be watching for:

MATCHING URGENCY: Coming off a near-flawless Game 1, the Nets can't afford to have a letdown against a Bulls team that doesn't want to go back to Chicago facing a huge deficit in the best-of-seven series.

Brooklyn fed off the energy of the sellout crowd in its home building on Saturday night. The Nets know the Bulls are going to make some adjustments. It's up to Brooklyn to counter them. According to WhoWins.com, teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven NBA quarterfinals are 98-5 all time in those series.

D-WILL THE THRILL: Deron Williams was dominant in Game 1, scoring 22 points, dishing out seven assists and getting three steals. It didn't matter who Chicago put on him, Williams still had his way, getting into the paint and getting easy shots for himself and his teammates. You figure the Bulls will put either Jimmy Butler or Luol Deng on D-Will, because Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson can't guard him.

WHAT ABOUT JOAKIM? Joakim Noah (foot), who played just 13 ineffective minutes in Game 1, says he feels better after receiving treatment and is looking forward to bouncing back in Game 2. The Nets shot 80 percent in the second quarter and scored 56 points in the paint. The Bulls, anchored by Noah on the interior, finished fifth in defensive efficiency this season. They need their 28-year-old center to have a greater impact, even if he's way less than 100 percent.

BROOK-LYN: Brook Lopez had 21 points, five rebounds and three blocks in his first playoff game, carrying over the regular-season success he enjoyed versus the Bulls. Since Noah isn't healthy, the Nets will likely try to get the ball to Lopez in the post earlier and often. Brooklyn was one of the NBA's best first-quarter teams this year, and Lopez's consistently strong starts were a big reason why. He had 12 points in the opening period in Game 1.

CRASH, SAVIOR OF THE UNIVERSE: Gerald Wallace, who had scored just 16 points total in his last seven regular-season games, erupted for 14 points in Game 1 on 5-for-7 shooting. Defensively, he held Deng to just 3-for-11 from the field.

Wallace is Brooklyn's linchpin, providing both leadership and intangibles. He was effective Saturday night because he attacked in the paint and got to the free throw line as a result. The Nets could certainly use a similar effort in Game 2.