During a radio interview on Monday, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said his team needs “one more good player” to enter elite status in the NBA. After Monday night’s 90-82 loss to Chicago, what the Nets really need is a better sense of urgency.
The Nets destroyed the Bulls in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series last Saturday and entered Monday’s game saying all the right things. That talk didn’t translate into anything substantive as the Bulls controlled nearly every aspect of their Game 2 victory to tie the series at one game each. The two teams will square off in Game 3 tonight in Chicago.
Following Monday’s loss, Nets players admitted the Bulls played with more fire and desperation. But maybe this should’ve been expected. The Bulls are a playoff-tested team that was able to win the fifth seed, despite the absence of superstar point guard Derrick Rose. Outside of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, most of the Nets regulars don’t have much playoff experience.
In the playoffs, defenses are better and officiating is usually a little looser, which means rugged teams like the Bulls generally get to play the way they want to in the paint. That was something many Nets players either didn’t realize or didn’t expect to happen Monday night. That became abundantly evident, especially in the third quarter, when the Bulls outscored the Nets 22-11, and the Bulls outrebounded the Nets and blocked seven shots.
“It just seemed like everything was going their way,” said Gerald Wallace. “They were getting all the 50-50 balls, they were attacking the rim, [and] they were getting all the calls.”
As bad as things looked on paper, the Nets were still in the game late, which shows the team has the talent and the fortitude to grind out three more wins against the Bulls.
“It was hurtful,” added Wallace. “We felt like we could’ve won this game … They were the more aggressive ones tonight.” Is that a statement of confidence or fear? The Nets need an answer to that question fast.