Carlos Boozer was a bright spot for the Bulls in Game 1.
Although they were crushed by nearly 20 points, the Bulls still have a few—definitely not a lot—advantages over their Brooklyn counterparts.
The Bulls are the better defensive team. During the regular season, they allowed 103.2 points per 100 possessions (sixth best in the league), while the Nets allowed 106.2 points (17th best).
Chicago has a chance to win the series despite an unremarkable Game 1 performance. Its usual sensational defense needs to return, and All-Star center Joakim Noah, who is battling plantar fasciitis, needs to get healthier really fast.
Here are a handful of advantages that the Derrick Rose-less Bulls have over Deron Williams and the Nets.
The Bulls are better than the Nets when it comes to free-throw shooting.
During the regular season, Chicago ranked ninth in the league from the foul line, shooting 77 percent. The Nets shot 73 percent, ranking them just 24th.
Four players for the Bulls shot over 80 percent from the charity stripe. Richard Hamilton led the club with 86 percent, while Marco Belinelli converted 84 percent of his attempts.
Brooklyn (82 percent) edged Chicago (68 percent) in Game 1 of the series. Yet, the Bulls are obviously capable of better shooting.
Look for the Bulls to improve from the line as the series progresses. It’s possible that free-throw shooting could determine the outcome of a few games.
Chicago’s Luol Deng and Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace will battle at small forward throughout the series.
Deng is clearly the superior player, although you couldn’t tell in Game 1.
The former Duke star recorded only six points and two rebounds. He was also a lousy 3-of-11 from the field and 0-of-3 from the foul line.
Wallace produced 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while hitting five of his seven field-goal attempts.
Deng, the Bulls’ leading scorer (16.5 points per game) during the regular season, will step up and show why he made his second consecutive All-Star appearance this year.
Don’t expect Wallace—who scored more than five points once during his last nine regular-season games—to outshine Deng anymore this series.
The Bulls have the edge at power forward, where they start Carlos Boozer and Brooklyn goes with Reggie Evans.
Boozer looked great against the Nets during the regular season, averaging 21.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest. He put up 29 points and 18 rebounds in the April 4 win at Brooklyn.
Boozer was one of the few bright spots for the Bulls in Game 1, as he scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed eight boards. He even dished out a team-high four assists.
Evans is an outstanding rebounder, but unlike Boozer, his offensive game is basically nonexistent. The 11th-year pro averaged a measly 4.5 points per game during the regular season. He scored just five points in Game 1.
Nicknamed the “Bench Mob,” the Bulls’ second unit was perhaps the best in the league the last two years.
The group was dismantled last summer, as guys like Omer Asik, Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson (now with the Nets) took their talents elsewhere.
While this year’s bench isn’t as fantastic as the Mob, it’s a decent crew. Nate Robinson is a dangerous scoring threat who’s capable of dropping 25 points every once in a while, and Taj Gibson is a fantastic defender.
Marco Belinelli is clutch. Also, Richard Hamilton and Nazr Mohammed possess championship experience.
The Nets’ bench isn’t extremely worse than Chicago’s. Watson and Andray Blatche are solid, but that’s about it. Kris Humphries is having a down year.
The Bulls' second unit outscored the Nets’ 39-28 in Game 1.
Brooklyn head coach P.J. Carlesimo has done a fine job on the sidelines this season. Taking over for the fired Avery Johnson, he compiled a 35-19 record and guided the Nets to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
And, of course, the Nets cruised past the banged-up Bulls in Game 1 under Carlesimo.
Nothing against Carlesimo, but the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau is the better coach. He should really be a serious candidate for the Coach of the Year Award, which would be his second in three years.
Thibs led the Bulls to the East’s fifth-best record despite a ton of injuries to the likes of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich.
He’s one of the top defensive minds in all of basketball.