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Monday, March 3, 2014
W2W4: Nets at Bulls

By Mike Mazzeo

Nineteen days later, the Brooklyn Nets are back home again, and will look to get back to .500 on Monday night against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

HOME COOKIN: The Nets (28-29) went 4-2 on their six-game, 11-day circus road trip, beating the teams they were supposed to beat and losing to the teams they were expected to lose to. The Bulls (33-26), despite not having Derrick Rose or Luol Deng, have won four straight and nine of their last 10. They are 2-0 against Brooklyn this season, beating the Nets by an average of 17 points in those games. Chicago plays tough, tenacious defense under coach Tom Thibodeau. This is going to be a tough one, to say the least.

INJURY PRONE: Joe Johnson, playing through a severely jammed ring finger on his right hand, is shooting just 32.1 percent in his last five games. Meanwhile, Deron Williams shot just 3-for-12 after hurting his right forearm early in the second quarter of Saturday night’s victory in Milwaukee. Kevin Garnett (back) is a game-time decision. We’ll have to see how the ailments affect Brooklyn’s Backcourt. The Nets will obviously be short-handed up front if Garnett isn’t able to go.

BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: During their recent road trip, the Nets were outrebounded by an average of 45.7 to 37.7. Yes, rebounding continues to be a major area of concern. And that isn’t a good thing with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson coming to town. The Bulls, aside from being a defensive juggernaut -- ranking seventh in efficiency (97.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) -- are seventh in the league in rebounding.

HOME DEBUT: Jason Collins, who became the NBA’s first active openly gay player last Sunday in Los Angeles, will play his first game at Barclays Center. We’d be surprised if Collins gets anything but a warm welcome from the Brooklyn crowd.