The Nets inaugural season in Brooklyn has to be considered a success. They went from one of the worst teams in the league to the 4th seed. They fired Coach Avery Johnson early in the season and replaced him with P.J Carlisemo. The backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson have come on in the second half of the season and showed they are worthy of their lofty contracts. Big man Brook Lopez had a strong campaign and proved to be a consistent scorer while improving his defense and rebounding. Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries have been huge disappointments while free agent pickup Reggie Evans has stepped into the starting power forward position and rebounded at an incredible rate while showing an improved offensive game.
The Bulls have played the entire season without star point guard Derrick Rose who is still recovering from a knee injury and is unlikely to play in the playoffs. They have had to deal with other injuries up and down the roster throughout the season but still managed to have a strong season. Luol Deng is the most underrated player in the league and has picked up some of the slack left by Rose. He is an all-around talent who competes on both ends of the floor. Center Joakin Noah is coming off a late season foot injury and is one of the best centers in the game. He is a relentless defender who consistently disrupts opposing offenses. Their weakness is in the backcourt where Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson split time at point guard and there is a revolving door at shooting guard. Richard Hamilton has been injured for a lot of the season and has never been able to get into the flow.
The Bulls are a defense first team who specialize in taking away opponents strengths. They defend the 3 point line extremely well which will play a key role in the series. Clearly Brooklyn has the big advantage in the backcourt. Johnson and Williams will have big time mismatches with the Bulls backcourt. However the Bulls play a team defensive system and will make life difficult for the Nets guards. The Bulls hold a frontcourt advantage as Deng and Noah are incredible defenders. Deng is an all-around star, capable of taking smaller players into the post and bigger defenders out on the wing. Wallace was re-signed by the Nets specifically to guard players like Deng and his level of success may determine the outcome of the series. Noah is going to give Lopez headaches provided he is fully recovered from his injuries.
This is likely to be a low scoring series in which most of the games come down to the final 2 minutes. The Nets have a big advantage down the stretch as Johnson has come up big in the closing moments all season long and Williams is capable of scoring on anyone. The Bulls will likely have to rely on Deng in such situations. In the end this series in going to go the distance and Brooklyn will take advantage of home court and advance.
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