In case you have been living under a rock, authorities apprehended the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, and the Brooklyn Nets are playing the Bulls in the first round of the NBA Playoffs tonight at Barclays Center.
Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s Past is Prologue.” For the less literary of our readership, or Knicks fans who have stumbled upon The Brooklyn Game, that means that the past sets the context for the present. In this spirit, let’s take a quick look back at the season series between Chicago and Brooklyn, which the Bulls won 3-1.
December 15 in Chicago: Bulls 83, Nets 82
In an ugly game in the windy city, the Nets had a 77-71 lead with five minutes to go in the fourth. But then team Marcoquis struck. Seldom used rookie point guard Marquis Teague had four points down the stretch and played lock down defense on D-Will, who led the Nets with 24 points but only five of those came in the final period.
Marco Belinelli, whose last name earlier in the game TBG staff quipped translated to “FAIL,” scored six points in the final 1:25 to lead the Bulls with 19. He also hit the only Bulls threes on the night, as Chicago went 2-10 from beyond the arc.
Reggie Evans wasn’t the designated garbage man that night, as Brook Lopez doubled Evans’ 5-rebound total en route to a double-double (18 points, 10 boards). The team shot a woeful 38.7%, but to be fair that probably had something to do with Avery Johnson’s “system.” The game kicked off a stretch in which the Nets lost five of six and ultimately ended with Johnson losing his job.
February 1 in Brooklyn: Nets 93, Bulls 89
The Nets defeated a Bulls team without starters Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich on the same night Barclays celebrated Mr. Whammy’s birthday. Coincidence? Try correlation. Flipping the script from the December game, the shorthanded Bulls carried a two-point lead into the fourth before Bench Mob took over.
MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche combined for 17 of 28 Nets points in the fourth. Forced to an eight-man rotation by injury, a normally defensively stellar Bulls team wore down and allowed the Nets to go 11-18 in the final frame. Blatche drove past a beaten down Taj Gibson for an and-1 with a little over a minute left to seal the game.
Before the fourth, the Nets were led by Brook Lopez, who had 20 points in the first three quarters to lead the team in scoring. Gerald Wallace also had a vintage Crash game, in one of the few games this season that he played at power forward. Crash only scored six points, but he did so on 3-4 shooting, and the Nets swiss-army knife also led the team with 13 boards to go along with solid defense.
March 2 in Chicago: Bulls 96, Nets 85
What might have been a competitive NBA game was squashed by a Bulls 19-0 – yes 19-0! – run between the second and third quarters. The Bulls led by double digits throughout the second half and that was all she wrote. Joakim Noah, coming off a monster triple-double against the Sixers (23 points, 21 rebounds, 11 blocks), had another big night to the tune of 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Carlos Boozer added 20 points and decided to show-up on the defensive end garnering five steals.
Brook Lopez had 22 points and three blocks, and that’s about the nicest thing for the Nets in the game. Mirza Teletovic added nine points on 4-7 shooting in garbage time. It was the fourth loss in five games for the Nets, coming at the heels of four straight wins in a span that stretched across the All-Star Break. Speaking of heels, Joe Johnson scored 11 points in his second game back after missing three straight with a sore heel.
April 4 in Brooklyn: Bulls 92, Nets 90
Things looked good for the Nets in the first half. In a nationally televised TNT game with Ian Eagle and Mike Fratello announcing, Brook Lopez poured in 18 points in the first quarter against a Noah-less Bulls team, Deron Williams dished out seven dimes in the first half and the Nets took an 11 point lead into halftime.
But then Tom Thibodeau happened. The Chicago coach made adjustments on both ends of the floor and the indefatigable Bulls clawed their way to a slim fourth quarter lead. One of the biggest adjustments was setting up much of the offense for Carlos Boozer, who dominated Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans for 29 points and 18 rebounds.
After being scorched by Lopez in the first half, the Bulls upped the defensive pressure on the Nets All-Star Center. The Nets responded in the fourth with D-Will, who almost single-handedly won it for the Nets with 30 points and 10 assists.
A crazy, back-and-forth final few minutes came down to one play. The Nets were down by 2 with 5.5 seconds left and everyone assumed they would go to either Big shot Joe Johnson or a hot-handed Williams. Williams drove down the lane and kicked it out to a wide open Lopez in the right corner, whose jumper clanged off the rim as the buzzer sound.
The Miami Heat was the buzzword in this game among fans. Many thought the Bulls should tank in this game to assure their fall to the sixth seed, thus avoiding Miami until the Conference Finals. On the Nets side, the loss severely hurt their chances for the three seed, thus avoiding the Heat until the conference finals as well. In the end, the Bulls and Nets will play each other for the right to face Miami in the second round. Bring it on.