So, uh, that Game 1 sure was something, wasn't it? That beat down was probably deserved after I labeled the Nets as frauds prior to the playoffs, although it's hard to imagine them keeping up that kind of brilliant play over the course of the entire series. I mean, it's fair to expect Deron Williams and Brook Lopez to continue to put up big numbers, but 14 points apiece from Gerald Wallace and C.J. Watson? Not going to happen every game. And Joe Johnson won't shoot over 50 percent in every game either, at least I sure as hell hope not.
That was a flawless Nets performance in Game 1, and now it's on the Bulls to make the necessary adjustments. It will certainly be made more difficult due to Joakim Noah's plantar fasciitis, although he claims to be feeling better. But after watching him hobble around out there in Game 1, only a true optimist has good feelings about Noah making a big impact. Noah will obviously be on a minutes limit, and almost hilariously enough, Tom Thibodeau said team doctors and Fred will determine Jo's minutes. The #FredClearedHim jokes will write themselves tonight.
As much as Nazr Mohammed sucks, I would think we see a bit more of him in Game 2. The Nets finished with 56 points in the paint, and at the very least, Mohammed is a large body that has been playing somewhat better of late. As much as I love Taj Gibson and his defense, he's too small to effectively defend Lopez for long stretches.
Another adjustment that has been brought up is what to do with the guard rotation. Thibs hinted on Sunday that one of Richard Hamilton or Marco Belinelli could be dropped from the rotation completely. Hamilton has the playoff experience, but he was absolutely useless on Saturday in his seven minutes and has stunk for much of the year. Belinelli made some poor decisions, but he was aggressive and got to the free throw line seven times. At this point, I'm going with Belinelli and keeping Hamilton's ass stapled to the bench barring more injuries.
Another option that I heard floated out there by both K.C. and Sam Smith on The Score this morning was moving Jimmy Butler back to the bench so one of the other guards can establish a better rhythm at the outset. Sam naturally gave some BS reasoning about Butler's offense not being good enough, however, there may be something to the fact that Butler can be effective off the bench, while Hamilton and Belinelli have struggled in that role this season. Still, Butler has been one of the Bulls' best players over the last few weeks, so this is a move I wouldn't make.
In other injury news, Kirk Hinrich will be good to go despite suffering a left thigh bruise in Game 1, although the Bulls probably would have been better off without him in that loss. Hinrich has had some truly awful games this season, but Saturday was arguably his worst. 28 minutes, two points, two assists, 0-of-3 from the field and a complete ass-whoopin' from Williams. Hinrich ended the regular season with two excellent games, confidently looking for his shot against the Magic and Wizards. But against real competition in Williams and the Nets, Hinrich shrunk in the moment. The Bulls need Kirk to be more effective if they want any chance in this series.
Speaking of needing to be more effective, Luol Deng getting outplayed by Wallace was truly one of the more shocking things to watch on Saturday. K.C. commented that it may have been the worst game of Deng's career, and it's hard to argue. 3-of-11 for six points and getting punked by Wallace, who has been terrible all year, was truly embarrassing for the Bulls' All-Star.
One of the few bright spots was Carlos Boozer's offense, who continued his strong play against the Nets this season with 25 points. Of course, he gave much of that back on the defensive end, as SB Nation's Mike Prada did an excellent job pointing out how Williams exploited Boozer's terrible defense time and time again. But the Bulls need Boozer's offense, so they'll have to live with that poor D.
As bad as the Bulls looked in Game 1, it was just one game. The Bulls destroyed the Heat in Game 1 of the 2011 ECF, and then lost the next four. I certainly don't think that will happen here, but if the Bulls can grab a win tonight, they'll be right back in it and the pressure will be firmly on the Nets. The Bulls have shown the ability to bounce back after tough losses, and now we'll get to see what they're made of when it really counts.