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Bulls vs. Nets: A tale of two games for Brooklyn starters

The Nets' starting lineup was a train wreck in Game 2.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Matt, Ricky and Zach all did a hell of a job providing insight on the Bulls' big 90-82 victory over the Nets in Game 2 on Monday. Most of the analysis obviously centered around the Bulls' adjustments on defense and how they walled off the paint and forced the Nets to beat them from the outside. The scheme worked pretty much to perfection, as the Bulls held the Nets to a paltry 35.4 percent from the field after allowing a scorching 55.8 percent in Game 1.

Where the Bulls had a ton of success defensively was at the start of both halves when the Nets' starting unit was on the court. The other bros noted how the Bulls made it a point to just not give a damn about Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans, choosing instead to allocate most of their focus on Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. Matt pointed out how Steve Kerr was begging for P.J. Carlesimo to get Wallace and Evans off the floor, and looking at how that lineup performed in Game 2, Kerr was absolutely correct.

After shooting 10-of-21 and posting a +6 in 13 minutes in Game 1, the Nets' starting unit laid an egg of epic proportions in Game 1. In 17 ineffective minutes, that unit went 4-of-23 overall and 0-of-4 from three with eight turnovers while posting a comically bad -16. The only baskets were a couple of Evans buckets around the hoop, a Johnson layup and a tough Williams jumper. This means Lopez didn't make a single basket with the starting lineup on the floor, although he did get to the line a handful of times.

One reason for the lineups' woes were their struggles in isolation. In his recap, Ricky posted a link from Jared Dubin at HoopChalk which did a nice job breaking down the difference in results the Nets (as a team, not just the starters) had on isos in Game 1 and Game 2. In Game 1, the Nets went 8-of-10 on isos, a surely unsustainable rate. Sure enough, the Nets went just 2-of-15 with three turnovers on isos in Game 2. Johnson was the main culprit to force up poor shots on iso sets, going 1-of-6 with a turnover. A lot of credit should be given to the Bulls' team defense concept, as well as stellar iso defense on the perimeter by Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler.

I'm not sure the Nets make drastic changes to their lineup/rotation in Game 3, but it's worth noting that the Nets' two point guard look of Williams and C.J. Watson has been pretty effective so far. In Game 2, the lineup of Williams/Watson/Johnson/Humphries/Lopez scored 19 points in just six minutes (+6), and the lineup of Williams/Watson/Johnson/Blatche/Lopez had 12 points in six minutes (+2). The Williams/Watson pairing was also great in Game 1, even when Wallace and Evans were on the floor. Watson has shot the ball well and has been very aggressive handling the ball, which has provided a nice boost for the Nets' offense. That's something we saw from C.J. quite a bit last year, although unfortunately, not in the playoffs.