NETS AT BULLS, 2 P.M. ET

TV: TNT

  • An hour before game time, Brooklyn Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said he expected guard Joe Johnson to play despite continued pain from plantar fasciitis. Johnson was a game-time decision before Game 3 and played almost 41 minutes.
  • Carlesimo characterized his team’s mood Saturday as “agitated.” “We know we are three hours away from possibly being 2-2 with a best-of-three series and two games at home,’’ Carlesimo said. “That’s what they are thinking about.”
  • After averaging 8.5 points during the regular season, Bulls second-year swingman Jimmy Butler has been held to nine points total in the last two games, although he has started at shooting guard and averaged 30 minutes in those two games. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler is in the game for his defense and intangibles. “He comes to the game with a defensive mindset,’’ Thibodeau said. “His offense is improving. But, he does a lot of things that don’t show up in the numbers. After a game, when we look at the film, we see things he does which are subtle but important.”
  • Carlesimo said the Nets need to get to the free throw line more often, but for Bulls fans, free throws are a severe concern. The Bulls have attempted nine more free throws than the Nets in the first three games, but the Nets  have scored seven more points from the line because the Bulls are shooting poorly there. The Bulls are 42 for 66 (63.6 percent) while the Nets are 49 for 57 (86.0 percent). The Bulls were 14 for 21 from the line in Game 3 and missed three key free throws down the stretch as the Nets tried to come back from a double-digit deficit. Luol Deng is three for nine from the line in the series, and Joakim Noah is four for eight.
  • Carlesimo tightened his player rotation in Game 3. Veteran shooting guard Keith Bogans, who played 23 minutes in the first two games of the series, did not play in Game 3. But Carlesimo has played 10 players in all three games so far. The Bulls have played only nine players in every game, and veteran guard Rip Hamilton has appeared in only one game for seven minutes.
  • Here is just how desperate the Nets are to win: In the history of the NBA playoffs, teams with a 3-1 lead in quarterfinal series are 82-3 in winning the series overall.

Kent McDill

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