The first round's only Game 7 got off to a back and forth start, as the Nets and Bulls essentially traded baskets for much of the first. While the Nets shot a slightly higher percentage from the field, the Bulls cleaned the offensive glass all quarter long, ending with seven offensive rebounds. Joakim Noah sparked the Bulls first quarter hustle, ending the opening frame with 10 points and five offensive rebounds.
The Bulls stretched their lead to nine at the beginning of the second quarter with a 5-0 run, but the Nets quickly responded with a run of their own to get within three points. Then the Nets offense stalled and the Bulls got going, outscoring Brooklyn 21-9 in the final seven minutes of the half.
Earlier Saturday, Tom Lewis posed three key questions to the outcome of Game 7. Here's where we stand at the half.
1. Who will play for the Bulls?
Literally, not a lot of guys are playing for the Bulls. With Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich all out, Chicago only saw eight players log minutes. However, the guys that did dress came to play. In addition to Noah's great play, third-string point guard Marquis Teague contributed four points and three assists in just six minutes of action. Marco Belinelli served as the primary ball-handler and no problems scoring.
2. Can the Nets continue scoring on the Bulls' defense?
Offense was not Brooklyn's problem for most of the first half, but they really stalled out in the final six minutes of the second quarter. They scored 25 points in the first quarter and shot around 50 percent for the entire half. What they do need is Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson to score more, as the offense stalled midway through the second quarter, which allowed the Bulls to stretch the lead to as much as 17. Lopez and Johnson combined for seven points and three rebounds in the first two quarters.
3. Can Brook Lopez solve Joakim Noah?
Nope. Lopez's jumper isn't falling and he's really having trouble on the low block. Lopez ended the first quarter with seven points and two rebounds, and at no point did he look like he had any rhythm. You'd think the Nets will try to go back to a healthy dose of a Williams-Lopez pick-and-roll at the start of the half.