Wake up, Brooklyn! This is playoff basketball. This isn’t the regular season anymore. It is something we like to call “win or go home.” Deron Williams knows the drill because he has been here before. He made it to the Conference Finals with Utah in 2007. Maybe his teammates just aren’t on the same page as him.
After the last two games, the Bulls look to be a much hungrier team than the Nets. Their effort in the last two contests has made fans forgive them for that ugly game 1 performance. Chicago’s defense has held Brooklyn to 35 percent shooting in each of the last two games. Chicago matches Brooklyn’s all-star guard duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson with Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler. While Williams and Johnson is a more talented back court, hard work has been beating talent.
Kirk Hinrich is a veteran guard with a solid offensive game. His killer instinct is what makes him the player he is. Hinrich is a very active defender that is great at moving his feet. He makes Deron Williams dribble, dribble, and keep dribbling until he has to force a shot or find a teammate to pass the ball to.
Jimmy Butler is a 6-7 swingman that has been improving his offensive game. But his athleticism and fantastic effort on defense is what establishes him as a force. Hinrich and Butler are not phased by Williams and Johnson in the least bit. They use their physicality to frustrate these two guards and it has worked to perfection in the last two games.
Joakim Noah is certainly a player we can’t forget. Noah will do anything it takes to get his handprint on the ball on defense. He is 6-11 but he runs the floor like a guard. Noah is the main reason this team is as successful as they are. He gives them the identity of being tough-minded, hard-working ball players. Noah isn’t as talented as Brook Lopez but he is much more aggressive and willing to take contact.
Carlos Boozer is the X-factor when he is at his best. Boozer is a fantastic player when he is focused and does what he is supposed to do. He is also a physical player and a fantastic rebounder. His silky smooth mid-range jump shot has been giving the Nets a lot of trouble in this series. Boozer had 22 points and 16 rebounds in their recent game 3 victory. Luol Deng, who has been Chicago’s biggest offensive spark this year, added 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Talent is a big part of the game but mentality can be even bigger. The Nets have what it takes to knock off the Bulls but they aren’t treating the series like it is a challenge. Brooklyn came out in game 1 looking like the more energized team. Since then, the tables have turned.
The highly motivated Chicago Bulls are a different story. They are made up of individuals who will do anything to win. Take no prisoners is a term that can be used to describe the Chicago Bulls.
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