The first two games on Saturday’s opening day of the 2013 NBA Playoffs were epic nail bitters and instant entertainers. However, the third game of the night featured the Brooklyn Nets, who were wondering why they were the only team in the first round to not have an opponent. On paper they were supposed to play the Chicago Bulls, but apparently no one told that to Chicago.
It was a blowout from the start, as Deron Williams and company took it to the Bulls and blew them away to gain a 1-0 series lead. The Nets got a new arena in a new city and a new logo, and they’re far from the Nets of old. The team that last played in New Jersey was an embarrassment of a franchise, but after an offseason that saw the team move to a new location, add some new pieces and put their best foot forward, the Nets are the talk of Brooklyn.
On the other side of things, the Bulls are facing a mountain of a task in taking on the NBA Playoff field. There is no Derrick Rose, there was barely a Joakim Noah and Chicago never stood a chance. The loss was painfully reminiscent of how quickly the Bulls imploded onto themselves last season after Rose was lost after the first game of their series against Philadelphia.
Brooklyn beat the Bulls to death in the paint, outscoring Chicago 56-36 and out-rebounding them 37-32. The Bulls are usually pretty stout in the paint and are able to win that battle, but Joakim Noah is the general in that regard and he only clocked 13 minutes on the court. His absence hurt the Bulls worse than anyone could have anticipated and it’s now clear that if Noah’s not healthy, the Bulls won’t make it out of Brooklyn alive.
The Nets ‘Big 3′ of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are all the hype, but it was Reggie Evans that stole the show Saturday night. Evans finished with 13 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive. That stat right there tells you all you need to know about how badly the Bulls missed Joakim Noah and how studly Reggie Evans was in Game 1.
Now that Brooklyn has asserted it’s dominance over the Bulls by blowing them out in the first game of their series together, the question becomes can the Bulls limp through this series ling enough for Joakim Noah to get healthy or will this series end the same way last year’s did. Obviously, last year was far more depressing for obvious reasons, but the Bulls have played one playoff game many didn’t think they would — but the Nets are already preparing to drag them behind the shed and put them out of their misery.