Previewing Game 3 of the Nets-Bulls first round series.
1. Where We're At: The series is even at 1-1 after the Chicago Bulls bounced back from an embarrassing performance in Game 1 with a great effort on both ends of the floor to beat the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2. While the Bulls are often known as a defensive unit, they were actually pretty accurate from inside the 3-point line. The Bulls knocked down 48.1 percent of their shots in Game 2. Joakim Noah fueled the fire with his valiant effort (essentially on one foot) and Nazr Mohammed stepped up to make some big shots.
2. The Big Number: 30. After scoring 56 points in the paint in Game 1, the Brooklyn Nets managed just 30 points in the paint in Game 2. The Nets made 74.3 percent of their shots in the restricted area in the first game. Brook Lopez made seven shots, Deron Williams made six shots, and Gerald Wallace made four shots -- all in the restricted area. They lived in the paint because they could push the ball and force matchup problems. That didn't happen in the second game because the Bulls made shots and ended up taking away the transition chances for Brooklyn. Without that luxury for Brooklyn, they made just 46.7 percent of their shots in the restricted area.
3. Key Adjustment: Taking away the paint. The Bulls ability to take away the paint turned the Nets from a team pounding the ball in the paint to a team that was forcing to get the ball into the middle and settling for bad jumpers when it didn't work. And predictably, the bad jumpers were a terrible backup plan. Part of this was the effort of Joakim Noah inside. He was able to play stellar defense and that set the tone for everybody walling off the inside. Brooklyn had to pray for their 3-point shots to fall and they made just 4 of 21 attempts. The Bulls' do a great job of forcing the ball from a confined area on the baseline to a contested jumper on the weak side. The Nets will have to get creative to find open looks in the paint again.
4. The Big Story: Which Deron Williams is going to show up? The Deron Williams we've seen since the All-Star break carried over into the first game of this series, prompting Nets fans to pound their chest at the dominating superstar they loved to root for. Unfortunately for Deron, that went completely away when they took away the painted area. He made just one shot in nine attempts and never looked comfortable attacking while looking for his own shot. He was still able to distribute nicely (10 assists and just two turnovers), but without the threat of him scoring, it took away a major weapon for his team.
5. The Facts: 8:30 p.m. ET start time. Joakim Noah is playing through plantar fasciitis and Derrick Rose is out with a year-old ACL tear.