Previewing Game 5 of the Nets-Bulls first-round series.
1. Where We Are: The Chicago Bulls have taken a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets after their triple-overtime victory in Game 4. The triple-overtime game was one for the ages on many levels. The Nate Robinson run was kind of ridiculous. The mental lapses by Brooklyn at the end of regulation were almost too good to be true for Chicago. In fact, it seemed like everything had to fall the Bulls' way in order for them to get back into that game and outlast Brooklyn for the win. But that doesn't discount the victory at all. These things happen in the playoffs sometimes. For three straight games, it seems like the Bulls have been begging the Nets to take them seriously, and the Nets refuse.
2. The Big Number: -0.2. This is just a funny stat. The Bulls are up 3-1 in the series and actually have a negative net differential for the postseason. The big reason for this is they've won three fairly tight games and the Nets had the big victory in Game 1. The Bulls have an offensive rating of 100.1 and a defensive rating of 100.3 in the four games against the Nets. This doesn't mean anything really. It's a small sample size, and it's skewed by one big occurence in the first game. But it was just funny to see a team up 3-1 in the series losing the series differential battle.
3. Key Adjustment: Do everything you did in Game 4, just don't relax at the end of regulation. It's stunning how many things went against the Nets in the final three minutes of regulation in Game 4. First of all, Nate Robinson scored 12 straight points. Gerald Wallace missed two free throws and then had an offensive foul on the next possession. That was followed by Deron Williams fouling Nate Robinson on a 3-point shot. Then Williams missed a layup. Before the run started, C.J. Watson missed a dunk. That's how you give away a 14-point lead.
4. The Big Story: The Chicago Bulls are on the verge of success without Derrick Rose. There are All-Stars on this Bulls' roster, but there aren't any stars -- and they're about to beat a much ballyhooed Nets trio of big name, big contract players. This is a testament to the players, but mostly to Tom Thibodeau. He has a system and believes in that system. More important, his team believes in that system, even if it hurts individual stats. Last year, they had to deal with the loss of Rose on the fly and got eliminated. This year, they've figured out how to survive. It would be cool if he rewarded them with an appearance on the court.
5. The Facts: 7 p.m. ET start time. Derrick Rose is out with an ACL tear from a year and a day ago.