Congratulations to the Chicago Bulls for knocking off the Brooklyn Nets, 99-93. Their reward for doing that is a second-round series with the reigning champions, the Miami Heat.
The boos were out in full force at the Barclays Center at halftime when the Nets were down, 61-44, in Game 7. And although the Nets made a surge in the second half, behind Brook Lopez and Deron Willliams' combined 45 points, it wasn't enough in the end.
The Nets cut the Bulls lead to just seven points by the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Bulls in the quarter, 31-21, thanks to their 10 offensive rebounds.
But they just couldn't overpower Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli, who combined for 48 of the Bulls 99 points, on 20-of-31 shooting from the floor.
Losing to a team without their star players, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, is bad. But it gets worse when you lose a Game 7 on your home court, and you give up 61 first-half points to a team that averages just 93.2 points per game.
It's certainly a dissapointing end to the Nets' first season in Brooklyn, and the Nets franchise has a lot of issues to fix during the offseason.
The Bulls, on the other hand, are headed to the second round of the playoffs for just the third time in their last eight playoff appearances.
Chicago was the better coached and more disciplined team throughout this series, and that's why they were able to win—even without Deng and Rose.
Nate Robinson, PG Chicago Bulls
Game 7 wasn't Nate Robinson's most stellar effort of the Chicago Bulls' series with the Brooklyn Nets, but he certainly stepped up in the fourth quarter when the Bulls needed him to.
He ended the night with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals, which was the kind of well-balanced production the Bulls needed out of him. The only problem was his shot selections, going 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The best part of Robinson's game, as always, was his tenacious pressure on the Nets' ball-handlers and the energy that he brought to the court.
Going up against the Miami Heat in the next round, the Bulls will need more consistent offensive production from Robinson. And if history has shown us anything, it's that he'll be ready to step into the spotlight.
Overall Grade: B
Deron Williams, PG Brooklyn Nets
There's no doubt that Deron Williams is disappointed that he couldn't lead the Nets out of the first round this season. But he certainly left it all out on the floor in Game 7.
Williams accounted for 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists.
Most impressively, though, he didn't commit a single turnover. While that's impressive, it also shows that he wasn't aggressive enough on the offensive side of the ball.
The Nets needed him to take the game over in the first half when everyone was struggling, but he didn't do that, scoring just 11 points in the first half.
Out of all the Nets, Williams certainly played the best. But it just wasn't enough in the end.
Overall Grade: A-
Marco Belinelli, SG Chicago Bulls
Where was this version of Marco Belinelli all season long?
Either way, Belinelli certainly stepped up at the right time for the Chicago Bulls, with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc and 5-of-5 shooting from the charity stripe.
It was a very well-rounded performance for Belinelli, and he was a major reason why the Bulls will now be playing in the second round.
In addition to his big fourth-quarter shots, he sank four straight free throws with under 30 seconds left in the game that held the Brooklyn Nets at bay.
Overall Grade: A+
Joe Johnson, SG Brooklyn Nets
Joe Johnson scored six points on 2-of-14 shooting, and all of those six points came in the third quarter.
That's really all you need to know about his performance, but I'll also throw out the fact that his perimeter defense was awful. Johnson looked a step behind the Bulls offense all night long.
Johnson minimized his three steals with three turnovers, and he shot 2-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.
This Game 7 performance will leave a sour taste in the mouths of Nets fans all offseason long, and it certainly impacts his image heading into the 2013 offseason.
Right when the Nets needed a big performance from Johnson, he failed, and that's why the Atlanta Hawks were OK letting him go to Brooklyn.
Overall Grade: F
Jimmy Butler, SF Chicago Bulls
Jimmy Butler had just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor, but he made up for that with his tough defense all game long.
Butler's defense was a major difference-maker in the first half and down the stretch for the Chicago Bulls.
He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists, while committing just one turnover.
Butler is turning into a strong role player for Chicago, and while that's great, they'll need him to be a bit more efficient when they take on the league's best in the Miami Heat in the second round.
Overall Grade: B
Gerald Wallace, SF Brooklyn Nets
Offensive production wasn't the issue for Gerald Wallace as he ended the night with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
The issue with Wallace's performance was his inability to stop anyone he was guarding on the defensive side of the ball.
Sure, Wallace couldn't stop the Bulls by himself, but he usually is a much more tenacious and strong defender. The Brooklyn Nets couldn't make up for his lack of production on the defensive side of the ball.
With five assists, Wallace did a good job of finding open teammates, but it wasn't enough to overwhelm the Bulls in the second half.
Overall Grade: B-
Carlos Boozer, PF Chicago Bulls
This is the kind of Carlos Boozer the Chicago Bulls needed all season long.
He was efficient, productive on defense and a real difference-maker on the offensive glass. Boozer ended Game 7 with 17 points and seven rebounds (three offensive), and he also shot an impressive 5-of-6 from the line.
Boozer's ability to get into the paint and hit shots when the Brooklyn Nets were making their run was a major deciding factor in what became a competitive game in the fourth quarter.
A majority of Boozers' 17 points came in the paint, and his play was a major reason why the Bulls were able to dominate the Nets in the interior with 52 of their 99 points in the paint.
Overall Grade: B+
Reggie Evans, PF Brooklyn Nets
It's not shocking that Reggie Evans ended the night with just two points without even attempting a single field goal all game long.
He did what the Nets needed from him, with 13 rebounds (five offensive) in 26 minutes.
I'm somewhat shocked that Evans didn't play more, even though he wasn't a factor on offense, because he was getting the Nets' second-chance opportunities on a majority of plays.
The one issue with Evans' performance was his ineffectiveness on the defensive side of the ball. He challenged shots, but he didn't keep anyone out of the paint, and that hurt the Nets.
Overall Grade: B-
Joakim Noah, C Chicago Bulls
With 10 points and five rebounds in the first quarter, Joakim Noah got the Chicago Bulls firing on all cylinders early on.
He continued to lead the Bulls throughout the first half with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and Noah didn't stop there.
Noah was the MVP of Game 7 with 24 points, 14 rebounds (seven offensive) and six blocks. And he managed to shoot 8-of-12 from the floor, owning the paint with a beautiful left mini-hook.
The Bulls thrived off Noah's energy, and he had his best defensive performance of his playoff career, with a playoff career-high six blocks against a talented Brooklyn Nets tea,.
During the fourth quarter, Noah also did a great job of minimizing Brook Lopez's impact, and that was a major reason why the Bulls won Game 7.
Overall Grade: A+
Brook Lopez, C Brooklyn Nets
If Joakim Noah hadn't had such a solid game, Brook Lopez could've easily won Game 7 for the Nets.
He scored 21 points on 9-of-20 shooting. But more impressively, he grabbed eight offensive rebounds, giving the Nets a plethora of second-chance opportunities.
What wasn't solid about Lopez's Game 7 was his inability to defend Noah when he got into the paint.
All in all, it wasn't a bad game for Lopez, but he got outplayed by Noah, and that was a major reason why the Nets failed to seal the series.
Overall Grade: B
Taj Gibson, PF Chicago Bulls
"Meh" is the best way to describe Taj Gibson's performance.
He wasn't a factor statistically speaking, with just four points and one rebound in 20 minutes of action. But he was a factor on the defensive side of the ball.
Two turnovers are two too many for Gibson, and he has to cut that out of his game in the next series, against LeBron James and company.
The Chicago Bulls could've used more production out of Gibson, and their whole bench for that matter, but luckily, they got the job done without him.
Overall Grade: C
Andray Blatche, C Brooklyn Nets
Andray Blatche certainly outplayed Gibson in terms of sixth-man play, with nine points, four rebounds and four assists.
He wasn't as much of a force on the defensive side of the ball, and that's where the Brooklyn Nets really needed him.
With that being said, Blatche's production was impressive for playing just 21 minutes, and the Nets could've used him out on the floor a bit more.
Overall Grade: B
Chicago Bulls' Bench
Neither team's bench was rather productive, with the Chicago Bulls' bringing in just 13 points.
Marquis Teague hit two big baskets in the first half, when the Bulls were building their lead, but more impressively, he added three assists in just 14 minutes of action.
All in all, the Chicago Bulls' bench wasn't a major factor, but the Bulls didn't need them to be because the starters were out there getting the job done.
Overall Grade: C+
Brooklyn Nets' Bench
The Brooklyn Nets' bench had a bigger impact than the Bulls' bench, with 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting. But it wasn't enough to will the Nets to victory.
Kris Humphries contributed three points and five rebounds, but he shot just 1-of-5 from the field.
Every Nets' bench player was in the negative when it came to plus/minus, and that shows the ineffectiveness of the production from the Nets' bench.
Overall Grade: C+