A big cliche of NBA playoff series is that they don’t start properly into Game 3. The concept being that until you see the team with home advantage go on the road, you can’t be sure what sort of series you are going to get. Well, the #4 v #5 match-up in the Eastern conference really started in Game 2 when the Chicago Bulls locked out the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn.
After another win for the Bulls in Chicago in Game 3; tonight’s match-up has the distinct feel of ‘do or die’ time for the Nets. The success of reaching the postseason will be significantly diminished, for a Brooklyn team that moved from New Jersey last summer, if they are bounced out of the first round quickly and easily.
This is the sort of game in the NBA playoffs where the best players are required to step up and be their team’s best players. Deron Williams is being paid like a superstar by Brooklyn. In the last two months of the season his level of play matched his price tag. The same cannot be claimed through three games of this playoff series. Williams dropped 22 points in the Game one, but he was stifled scoring 26 points over the next two games. Chicago plays extremely tough defense and they are specifically targeting Williams. However, it is a superstar’s responsibility to produce regardless of that. Williams needs to produce for Brooklyn and it is as simple as that.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Nets offense also needs to figure it out. Brooks Lopez is a developing presence near the hoop. He possesses a decent jump shot, but it’s pretty clear that Tom Thibodeau is more than happy to give up those jump shots from Brooklyn’s big man. The Nets need to move the ball around. They need to stretch and test Chicago’s defense. Coach C.J. Carlesimo has a lot to figure out ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game.
It might feel like more of the same is all that is necessary for the Bulls heading into Game 4. However, Thibodeau and his team will know differently. Brooklyn are simply going to have to attack Chicago more in transition, Williams is capable of disrupting this defense with his raw shooting ability and other players are going to have to make some shots. All of these things present distinct challenges to a defense that needs to be successful.
The offense is still heavily reliant on Luol Deng to generate and that is something that the Nets, who play very good defense, are capable of exploiting. As well as the Bulls have done in this series, they are still not a team that looks capable of seriously outscoring an opponent who gets their offense going.
Betting Preview: Chicago (-4.5) vs. Brooklyn
This Nets team may not figure out Chicago across a seven-game series, but there is a feeling that their offense is due a stronger game. Williams does have the talent and scoring ability to make a defense pay even if they focus on him with the ferocity that the Bulls have.
Game 4 may be in Chicago and and it may be an opportunity for the Bulls to administer the killer blow. However, there’s a good chance that it will be a little more open in terms of attacking basketball and that should be the boost that Brooklyn needs to even the series up at 2-2.
The Pick: Brooklyn (+4.5) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against The Spread: 12-7