Bulls vs. Nets: Chicago's shot to punch back will test Brooklyn's urgency

USA TODAY Sports

After the Chicago Bulls got brutally beaten up in Game 1, the Brooklyn Nets' focus will be tested in Game 2.

It wasn't a full game that got the Chicago Bulls thoroughly beaten by the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. Rather, it was Chicago finding itself down 60-35 at half; that would be a Bulls team without the firepower to fight back from a 15-point deficit, let alone a 25-point disadvantage.

Take that as a good thing and a bad for both teams heading into Game 2 in the Barclays Center. The Nets have the opportunity to jump to a comfortable 2-0 series lead against the undermanned Bulls on Monday, but Brooklyn can't allow the thoughts of how the Game 1 results came about stick on their minds.

It's unlikely Chicago starts so slowly and so ineffectively in Game 2.

The Bulls turned the ball over seven times in Saturday's first half to produce 14 points for the Nets. They scored just eight points in the paint to Brooklyn's 40 and allowed 60 percent shooting to their own 37 percent. Take away Carlos Boozer, and the Bulls shot just 28 percent.

The game was already over, but Tom Thibodeau's team showed a will in the second half by outscoring the Nets, 54-46. Brooklyn's lead was comfortable enough, after all.

But the first half in Game 1 wasn't at all resembling Chicago's usual identity, even with center Joakim Noah playing just 13 minutes and struggling with his plantar fasciitis issue. Noah is expected to play in Game 2, according to the team, and either way, it's hard to see Chicago coming out so flat for a second game in a row -- no matter the lack of scoring options outside of Boozer and Nate Robinson.

The good

For the Nets, the good would include the obvious health and production of a roster that was always talented but often looking for an identity. Deron Williams appears to have regained his form that once had him in the discussion as a top point guard in the NBA. Meanwhile, Joe Johnson scored a productive 16 points on 13 shots, Brook Lopez looked like an All-Star and the bench gave enough support.

On Chicago's end, the third and fourth quarters both saw the Bulls shoot above 57 percent. Although it was against a Nets team that already mailed it in, perhaps it's a building block for a fast start on Monday night.

The bad

Overconfidence is a hard thing to kick in the NBA, especially when the opponent is fighting for life. Brooklyn will be at a disadvantage in that respect. And again, it's hard to imagine the Nets have a better game against a usually-solid Bulls defense. It's also hard to see Chicago having a worse game in general.

For the Bulls, getting Luol Deng on track is of utmost importance. He only went 2-for-7 and scored five points while failing to get to the free throw line in the series opener. His aggressiveness must be on full display, as the Bulls are searching for a third scorer.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Odds: Brooklyn opened as 4.5-point favorites.

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Prada: Deron Williams slices up the Bulls

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