The Chicago Bulls won three of the four games they played against the Brooklyn Nets and hope to win four out of the next seven in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bulls have been without Derrick Rose all season, but have managed to truck along and have held their own against the Nets. While the Bulls may have won the season series, they'll have to hit the playoffs with Joakim Noah dealing with a foot injury, giving him a "day-to-day" status label. Can the Bulls win the series without Noah?
But before looking ahead to the playoffs, let's look back on the season series that was.
Game 1, Dec. 15 in Chicago: Bulls 83, Nets 82
"We had a couple of costly turnovers there in the stretch, and I was the biggest culprit of it - me turning that ball over in the crucial part of the game." said a despondent Johnson.
Still, the Nets had a chance to tie. With 14 seconds left and down by two, Johnson inbounded to Williams who got off a stepback jumper that came up short. Marco Belinelli, who led the Bulls with 19 points, proceeded to drain two free throws to give his squad a four point advantage and put the Nets on ice.
Brook Lopez scored 18 points and also pulled down 10 rebounds. Brooklyn had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but Deron Williams missed a stepback jumper, and the Bulls eventually put the game away at the free throw line.
Game 2, Feb. 1 in Brooklyn: Nets 93, Bulls 89
With the Bulls up 63-61 in the third and the starters struggling to score, MarShon Brooks, Andray Blatche and C.J. Watson took over. They scored 25 of Brooklyn's' final 30 points as the Nets were able to fend off the relentless Bulls.
"Marshon, Me, the whole Bench Mob, we come in, we try to bring energy and pick the team up." said Blatche.
The second game of the season series stands as the lone Brooklyn victory, but it's worth noting the Bulls were without Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich. Chicago had the lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Nets' bench put in 25 points and it was enough to pick up the W. Taj Gibson played all 48 minutes of the game, and Luol Deng played 47 minutes.
Game 3, March 2 in Chicago: Bulls 96, Nets 85
It looked like it was going to be a long game, with the Bulls falling behind 15-4 out of the gates. But soon enough, the Bulls started to lock in on both sides of the floor, and the Nets regressed into the pile of mediocre that they are. The Bulls used a 15-0 run at the end of the first half to open up a 14-point lead at the break, and they were never really threatened in the second half.
Noah led the Bulls to their second victory over the Nets, scoring 21 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing five assists and swatting four shots. The Nets shot 44 percent from the field while also turning the ball over 21 times -- a poor showing from Brooklyn. Chicago had 24 points off of the 21 turnovers. The Bulls pushed their lead out as far as 20 points, but let up on the gas, eventually winning by only 11 points. Boozer also scored 20 points for the Bulls. Lopez had a team-high 22 points for Brooklyn.
Game 4, April 4 in Brooklyn: Bulls 92, Nets 90
This win was Thibs Ball at its finest, with the Bulls grinding out a game they really had no business winning. They easily could have packed up the tents after the terrible start, but they fought hard and out-hustled the Nets for most of the game. Despite Noah and Taj Gibson being out, the Bulls out-rebounded the Nets 46-30. That included 13 offensive rebounds for the Bulls, all by Boozer, Deng, Butler and Nazr Mohammed. It's also worth noting that Mohammed really held his own on Lopez as the game went on, not giving in after getting embarrassed at the outset.
In the final game of the series, the Bulls were shorthanded as can be without Noah, Belinelli and Gibson, but still pulled a victory out of a hat -- a hat that Nate Robinson was wearing, as he drove to the rim and scored the game-winning layup. Deron Williams had a big game for Brooklyn, scoring 30 points while also piling up 10 assists for a double-double.