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Thursday, April 4, 2013
W2W4: Nets vs. Bulls

By Mike Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets are back home, and will face the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at Barclays Center. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

HOME SWEET HOME: Brooklyn came away with a 5-3 record on their eight-game, 17-day circus road trip. Brook Lopez (21.9 points per game) and Deron Williams (21.3 points) led the team in scoring during the trip. Now, the Nets are back at Barclays Center, where they’ve amassed a 22-14 mark thus far.

JOE AND GERALD: Joe Johnson (heel) and Gerald Wallace (foot) sat out Wednesday night’s victory in Cleveland. Earlier this week, Johnson sounded as if Thursday would be the day he returned to the lineup. He’s missed the last five games due to injury. MarShon Brooks started and notched a career-high 27 points on Wednesday night. It’ll be interesting to see how interim coach P.J. Carlesimo works him into the rotation if Johnson is indeed back.

PLAYOFF PREVIEW? The fourth-seeded Nets (43-31) lead the sixth-seeded Bulls (40-33) by 2.5 games in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. The Bulls are just a half-game behind the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks (42-34). This is a pivotal regular-season matchup between two teams seeking home-court advantage in the first round, to say the least.

WALKING WOUNDED: Joakim Noah (foot), Richard Hamilton (back) and Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) are all hurt for the Bulls right now. It is unknown if Taj Gibson (knee) will play. The Bulls are 2-1 against the Nets this season.