Nets Look to Beat the Bulls in Home Finale

(AP Photo/Matt Marton)
(AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Nets Look to Beat the Bulls in Home Finale

Opponent: Chicago Bulls
Time: 5:00 PM EST 
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Watch: YES Network, CSN Philly, Fox Sports GO 
Listen: WCBS 880 AM

The Brooklyn Nets’ three-game winning streak went to a halt on Thursday night. They lost to the Orlando Magic on the road, 115-107, after a shaky third quarter in which the Nets were outscored by 15. Brooklyn was unable to win their 20th game of the season, and remain undefeated in the month of April. Need to get back to reality somehow, right?

The Nets’ three-game winning streak included wins at home against the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks and a big road win against the Philadelphia 76ers. In those games, different players stepped up. The 76ers game, in particular, was a team effort, where no player scored over 16 points in a huge Nets victory. Despite the team’s struggles, the Nets are looking to end the season on a positive note and carry it into the offseason.

In their last ten games, the Nets have gone 6-4. They have shot an improved 46.3% in that stretch, and have been a top-10 rebounding team in their recent stretch as well. Their defensive rating of 99.8 is third in the league in the past ten games, only trailing the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, per (I’m not joking! Take a look for yourself!) As much as the Nets’ offense has been talked about this year the Nets have shown a tremendous improvement on the defensive side as well.

Visiting the Barclays Center will be the Chicago Bulls, with an early 5:00 PM start. The Nets have lost their previous two games to the Bulls. Their Halloween matchup was a 30-point loss for the Nets, who were at full strength in that game. Their December 28th matchup ended in a heartbreaking buzzer beater and some late game drama. Jimmy Butler came back from a fourth-quarter injury to sink the Nets, 101-99. Let’s see how much the Nets have grown since then…

The Bulls won their last game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, 102-90. The win improved their record to 39-40 on the season. Their game against Brooklyn will end a four-game road trip. They’ll return to Chicago for their final two games. Additionally, guard Dwayne Wade will return to the Bulls on Saturday night against the Nets after missing a few games due to elbow issues.

3 Things to Watch for Nets-Bulls:

The Lopez Bowl

It’s always special when the NBA’s favorite set of twins (sorry, Morrii) faces off against each other. After playing in the same home city last season, Robin has played well for Chicago down the stretch. He’s played his tough, versatile brand of basketball, helping the Bulls contend for a playoff spot. Most notable, Lopez threw hands with Serge Ibaka in a 90’s style big men confrontation. The crazy-haired Lopez was suspended one game for his actions. Ironically, that was the night of the Brook Lopez game-winner against the Pistons.

Aside from Lightsaber duels and cat discussions, the Lopez Bowl matchups have been seemingly evenly contested. Robin has nine wins to Brook’s six, but Brook has averaged 21.3 points in their fifteen matchups compared to Robin’s 9.6, per basketball-reference. The two are united, however, in their takedown of NBA mascots.

Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Net has been MIA for quite some time.

2. Chicago’s Playoff Persistence

As of Saturday morning, the Chicago Bulls held the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The seventh and eight seed battle has narrowed down to the Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Miami Heat. Currently, the Heat are on the outside looking in. The Bulls will play the Nets in two of their last three games and would like easy wins against the league’s worst team. The Nets will look to play spoiler again, and spoil Chicago’s playoff aspirations somewhat.

An interesting wrinkle in the situation is the Indiana Pacers second round draft pick. The second round pick, acquired in the Thaddeus Young deal, will only convey to the Nets this season if they miss the playoffs. Ironically, the Nets beating the Bulls could lead to a playoff berth for Indiana. Regardless, expect the Nets to give maximum effort, and continue their recent strong play.

3. Lin-Watch

Jeremy Lin had his highest scoring game of the season against the Magic, scoring 32 points, drilling 5-of-9 three-point field goals, and leading the team in what could have been a blowout loss. In a game where Brook Lopez struggled to find his groove like Kuzco, Jeremy Lin led his team when the Nets struggled to find a basket.

The performance was a positive sign for Lin, who had a weak shooting game in last Saturday’s matchup against Orlando. Lin will look to roll with his momentum from last game, and lead the Nets to victory at the Barclays Center.

BONUS – Fan Appreciation Night

The Nets will play their final home game of the season on Saturday night. It’s Fan Appreciation Night! All fans will have discounts at the Nets’ Swag Shop and there will be surprise giveaways and cool experiences. Oh, and Sarah Kustok (and the other YES Network analysts) will probably receive their “Who Am I?” championship trophies.

There will be no Nets basketball at the Barclays Center for six months! So expect a fun, vocal crowd. It’s been a tough season, but the Nets, and Net fans, will look to close out the season strong in the final home game of the season.

Pregame coverage on the YES Network will start at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to follow @TheBKGame on Twitter for live game coverage. See you at the game!