The Brooklyn Nets are securely in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, which begins on Tuesday, so despite the elimination of the New York Knicks from playoff contention, there will still be meaningful playoff basketball here in New York at Barclays Center. While the Nets are in the playoffs, they are still unsure of who they will play, which could go down to the final game of the season on Wednesday. Though Nets head coach Jason Kidd and the players would never say who they would rather face, should the team want to play the Toronto Raptors or Chicago Bulls?
If I am the Brooklyn Nets or a fan of the team, I want absolutely no part of the Chicago Bulls. Coached by one of the best in the league, Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls play great defense and make you work hard for every basket on the court. Led by Joakim Noah, who will probably win Defensive Player of the Year for the season, the Bulls are the stingiest team in the NBA, allowing only 91.8 points per game. They allow the second-lowest field goal percentage to their opponents, at .431 on the season, and are a good rebounding team. The Bulls do have a poor offense as well, and rank at the bottom of the league in both points per game (93.8) and field goal percentage (.433.) When you factor in the Nets home loss to the Bulls in the playoffs a year ago, something that has to still be in the heads of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, the Nets would be smart to want to play the Raptors. But the crew from Canada possess skills that make them a viable threat as well.
Though not the Bulls, the Raptors rank in the top 10 in the NBA in both points allowed and field goal percentage against, hallmarks of a solid defensive team. The Raptors, however, have a much better offense than the Bulls. Led by leading scorer DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors, one of the big surprises in the league who won the Atlantic Division, can beat you on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Lowry has also proven to be dangerous with the ball in his hands late in the game, and may put a lot of pressure on the Nets defense late in the game.
The Nets have played well for quite some time, and 2014 All-Star Joe Johnson talked about this Sunday after a Nets win. “We’ve got to try to fine-tune and keep this chemistry we have going with the guys going into the postseason.” The chemistry the Nets have and the way they have played inspires fans to dream of a second-round match up with LeBron James and the Miami Heat or even the Indiana Pacers. Hopefully the team itself isn’t thinking ahead to the second round. A year ago a matchup with the Heat seemed likely, especially after the Bulls suffered injuries in their series against the Nets, but we know how that ended. Hopefully for the team and it’s fans, veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett can assure that this season has a different ending.