During the first half of Game 1, the Nets got off to a hot start on both ends of the floor. Between holding the Bulls to 36.6-percent shooting to Brook Lopez and Deron Williams combining to score one less first-half point than the entire Bulls team, Brooklyn was sensational.
The crowd rewarded their efforts with cheers and consistent chants of "Brooklyn!"
During the first quarter, it was Lopez early and often, as he both altered shots defensively and found the bottom of the net on offense. He scored 13 points in the opening period, all the while keeping Joakim Noah off balance on both ends.
Paired with D-Will's nine points, the Nets' dynamic duo outscored the entire Bulls team in the first quarter by a margin of 22-14.
C.J. Watson continued the offensive onslaught during the second quarter, scoring 10 points against his former team. With his ability to spread the floor, Lopez and WIlliams continued their two-man show and extended Brooklyn's lead to double digits.
Entering the half, the Nets were up, 60-35.
Come the third quarter, the Bulls managed to match the Nets at nearly every turn. Unfortunately, Chicago failed to defend and the likes of Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche made it pay.
Game 1 was over by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.
Carlos Boozer attempted to lead a comeback, scoring 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the floor. Unfortunately, Chicago simply lacked the offensive firepower necessary to keep up with the Nets.
D-Will is the primary reason why.
With all due respect to Brook Lopez and his magnificent play, this was all about Deron Williams' reemergence as an NBA superstar.
Williams has been red-hot since the All-Star break, averaging 22.9 points and 8.0 assists on a slash line of .481/.420/.866. Saturday night, Williams put those abilities on display by dropping 22 points, seven assists and three steals on 9-of-15 from the field. D-Will also shot 2-of-3 from beyond the arc in a game in which he sealed the victory in the first half.
Other players deserving of praise include Lopez, who finished with 21 points, and Joe Johnson, who rediscovered his scoring touch. Gerald Wallace stepped up as well, continuing his history of postseason success with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Paired with impact outings from C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche, the Nets made their postseason arrival with one significant statement—this team is experienced, dangerous and a legitimate threat to capture the crown.
During the entirety of the Brooklyn Nets' decimation of the Chicago Bulls, there was no shortage of interior scoring. By that, of course, I mean to say no shortage of interior scoring by the Nets.
The differential in terms of points in the paint is rather astonishing, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
The Nets outscored the Bulls 40-8 in the paint in the first half.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 21, 2013
That's a great way to earn yourself a blowout win.
To be clear, there is no individual worth blaming for the Bulls' inability to protect the rim. With that being said, there is no question that the injured Joakim Noah was bothered by foot issues and lacked his usual explosiveness.
Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago provided the words that were on everyone's mind:
It's time for Thibs to pull the plug on Noah for the night. Forget that the Bulls are down 26 -- Noah isn't moving around well at all.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 21, 2013
Here's hoping that Noah can reach 100 percent by series end.
While some may have called for the removal of injured players, others were asking for the direct opposite. In fact, there was a question worth asking about whether another injured player would be inserted into the game.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press supplied this gem:
Isn't this about where Thibs puts D-Rose into the game?— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) April 21, 2013
Every Bulls fan in the world has been wondering that same thing.
Through all of the trials and tribulations that the Bulls withstood in Saturday night's beating, there was no ignoring how well Carlos Boozer played. As has been the case during the regular season, however, that will be meaningless to Bulls fans.
Boozer will continue performing at an All-Star-caliber level and the fans will keep underappreciating him:
Sad thing is, if the Bulls lose tonight, most people won't give Carlos credit for showing up or will forget too quickly.— Aggrey Sam (@CSNBullsInsider) April 21, 2013
Unfair or not, that's just the way it is.
As for how this series will play out, history is certainly on Brooklyn's side. After all, winning Game 1 is about much more than gaining an early advantage.
Of the 438 best-of-seven playoff series, teams who won Game 1 went on to win the series 78% of the time (341-97), per @espnstatsinfo.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 21, 2013
Will that be how this one plays out? Hit the comments section and let us know.