With four defeats in the United Center this season, two of which came in the current first-round playoff series, the Nets’ efforts have been futile.
It’s enough to start thoughts of impending doom, especially with the Bulls just one victory from advancing and Thursday night’s Game 6 slated for the United Center. Yet if there is one thing the Nets seem to have as the walls start to close in, it is a sense of optimism.
The end result of the previous four games in Chicago is obvious to see. Reggie Evans chooses to see the progression the Nets have made, up to and including the fourth-quarter lead and triple-overtime loss in Game 4.
“It was a tough game,” Evans said before the Nets’ shootaround Thursday morning. “That was like an NBA classic. Triple overtime. Even when you have a game like that, even if you lose there isn’t a reason to hold your head down. You were on the road; you went triple overtime. We showed the world that we will not worry about that game.”
If the Nets’ convincing victory in Game 5 showed anything, it’s that they weren’t broken-hearted over losing a late lead and being on the brink of elimination.
“It showed a lot that we weren’t ready for the season to end,” Evans said. “Just to help some of the people in Brooklyn, our fans who were happy for us to come back and people that work there who were like, ‘Hey, we need y’all to win so we can come back to work.’ That’s just a good feeling. They’re depending on us. We have a lot of people depending on us, and we just trust in ourselves that we can come in and get a win.”
The intensity of the always-packed, always-intense United Center has proved itself as an advantage to the Bulls. Despite a number of injuries down the stretch, the Bulls still were able to end long winning streaks by the Miami Heat and New York Knicks on their home court. And they held off the Nets earlier in the series.
“It’s a tough building to play in, but I think it is a tough building to play in because of who you’re playing,” coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “Going back to [Chicago Stadium], it’s always been a great atmosphere playing here. But there were also years, not a lot of them, but years in between that it didn’t matter what the atmosphere was. You come in here and get wins. When the teams have been as good as they have been for most of that time, it’s been a tough building to play in.”
If there is a residual effect from the Game 4 loss, it isn’t one of disappointment but rather one of determination.
“We need a win,” Deron Williams said. “We haven’t won here yet so ... for some reason we haven’t been able to have success. We had chances. Obviously the last time we were here we blew that lead, so that is still fresh on our mind and we’re ready to go.”