The matchup between the talented and loaded Nets and the Rose-less Bulls at first glance would perhaps seem like a snooze fest. However, out of the 8 playoff matchups only two lower seeded teams have stepped up and played big. Don’t sleep on the Bulls. Despite the cloud of uncertainty that has loomed above them all season on whether or not their MVP player Derrick Rose would ever make his return; they have made it to the playoffs. They won’t settle for just sliding into the playoffs. They believe without a doubt that they can win, without Rose. We all witnessed the elevation of their game with their spirited defeat of the Miami Heat as they busted their historical streak. They were able to accomplish that without Rose and amazingly enough without Joakim Noah.
Noah is undoubtedly the voice, heart and anchor of the defensive minded Bulls.
He made a much needed return to action in Game 2. He contributed with a double double (11 points, 10 rebounds) but his mark was left on the game in more ways than stats can show. His energy and heart lifted the entire team and inspired every player from the Bulls to play with purpose. Defensively and offensively sound, they held the Nets to only 11 points in the 3rd quarter. They also held the Nets to a miserable 35.4% shooting percentage, winning game two 90 to 82!
Derron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets had a very forgettable game two, only scoring 9 points. He is a big time player and had hopes of bouncing back in game three. He returned in game three with an 18 point effort. Game three was a throwback defensive effort from both teams. The Bulls held the Nets once again to a below 35% shooting percentage. They started off hot with an early 12 point lead. Then Luol Deng buckled down defensively and shut down a hobbled Joe Johnson and driven Derron Williams. The window must have been left open in the Windy City. The Nets shot a miserable 1 for 26 at one point.
It wasn’t all bad however,they were able to stifle the Bulls consistent shooting and narrowed the gap in the deficit in the last 5 minutes of the game. The Bulls didn’t score a basket from the field in the last 3 minutes, as Brooke Lopez led the team in a hard fought come back. A few untimely turnovers by the Bulls set up The Nets with the chance to tie the game with 4.4 seconds. with the score 79-76. They were able to find Watson open in the corner for a three pointer after great ball movement. However, he missed the shot wide left with an air ball. The shot summed up their luck for the night shooting the ball. Chicago escapes with the game 3 win and now leads the series 2-1.
Game 4 will once again be played in Chicago. Tune in this Saturday for game 3 on NBA on TNT at 2:00pm to catch one of the hardest fought series in what has been a lopsided Round 1 of the playoffs, to this point, with the higher seeded teams taking 17 of the 22 games played.