Carlos Boozer’s game high 25 points wasn’t nearly enough for the Bulls, as the Brooklyn Nets cruised to a convincing 106-89 victory in game 1 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in front of a sell-out crowd at Barclays Center. Nets owner Mikhail Prokorhov was present sitting in his box, and now former Nets minority owner Jay-Z sat court-side in the Nets first playoff game since 2007.
The Nets led 60-35 at halftime, and never trailed at any point. Deron Williams led Brooklyn in scoring with 22 points on 9/15 shooting, which included a ridiculous reverse throw-down dunk in the 2nd half.
Gerald Wallace, who experienced arguably the worst season of his career, played his best game of the season. Wallace scored 14 points on 5/7 shooting, after shooting only 39% from the field during the regular season. The Gerald Wallace-Luol Deng matchup was viewed as a major advantage for Chicago, but Wallace won it in game 1 as Deng only managed to score 6 points on 3/11 shooting.
The Nets played great in game 1, but this series if far from over. A huge key for Chicago is going to be the health of center Joakim Noah going forward. Noah was only able to play 13 minutes while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Noah being out let Brook Lopez dominate down low as the Nets outscored the Bulls 56-36 in the paint. Lopez finished the game with 21 points and a game high 3 blocks.
If the Bulls are going to come back in this series, they have to find a way to stop Lopez. Taj Gibson was supposed to take Noah’s place, but he was in foul trouble throughout the game. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau experimented briefly with Nazr Mohammed playing him for 6 minutes.
The Bulls played much better in what was a meaningless second half outscoring the Nets 27-17 in the final quarter.
Game 2 of the series is set for Monday night at 8:00pm from Brooklyn.
**Don’t expect Derrick Rose to return on Monday, or at any point during the post-season as Tom Thibodeau said that Rose is very likely done for the season.