Monday, April 29, 2013
D-Will: 'Every game is an elimination game'
By Mike Mazzeo
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Brooklyn Nets know what's at stake on Monday night: their season.
"Every game is essentially Game 7 for us," Deron Williams said several hours before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. "Every game is an elimination game."
The Nets are just two days removed from their heartbreaking 142-134 triple-overtime loss in Chicago.
The Nets won't have to deal with Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich, who played 60 minutes in Game 4.
"The last one definitely stung. It's definitely still there," Williams said. "There's a lot of frustration, a lot of looking back. You wish you could've done more or done something different. At the end of the day, it happened. It's one of those games where everything went wrong at once.
"We have a chance to make it right tonight."
Only eight teams in NBA history have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
"It's happened before, so we know it could happen again," Joe Johnson said. "We've got to be a team on a mission. We gotta win three games in a row, and I think it's definitely possible."
The Nets, who are 5-0 all time in home Game 5s -- for what that's worth -- reported no injuries Monday, a victory considering how many minutes their starters played in Game 4.
"I'm sure we're in the same shape that the Bulls are in," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "I think you see two tired teams. We may have to go to the bench a little more than normal ... but we'll see what happens.
"There's no question who should be the most desperate team. And there's no question who this game should mean more to, and our guys understand that."
Johnson said his left foot is "a little stiff," but added that he'll be fine.
"Come game time, I'll be ready," he said.
BULLS BANGED UP: The Bulls will be without starting point guard Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf).
That could be a good thing for the Nets, given how well Hinrich has played at both ends of the floor.
"Him not playing is a big plus for us," Carlesimo said. "Whether we take advantage of it -- or the guy or guys who get to play more minutes take advantage of it -- remains to be seen."
Then again, no Hinrich means more Nate Robinson, who had 23 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
Asked about Robinson, Carlesimo said, "We have to do a better job with some schemes. We have to try to get the ball out of his hands. Even so, some of [his baskets] were pick-and-rolls, some of them were screens and some of them were -- I don't even know what, some of the bank shots he made.
"That's Nate. That's what he can to. He, Jamal Crawford, J.R. [Smith], there's a couple guys in this league that can get in those kind of zones and it gets very difficult [to defend]. But we clearly have to help our guys, and if he does get going then we have to make adjustments, even if it means opening up some holes."
STICKS AND STONES: Responding to a Chicago media report that the Bulls wanted to play the Nets because they're "gutless" and "heartless," Johnson said, "Regardless of who they wanted to play -- whether they wanted to play us or not -- we're in a situation where our backs are against the wall, and we'll see how we respond tonight."