NEW YORK — For reasons of both desire and necessity, the Bulls would prefer that their first-round playoff series with the Nets doesn’t return to Chicago.
Up 3-1 after Saturday afternoon’s triple-overtime win at the United Center, the Bulls can eliminate Brooklyn on its home court Monday night, a scenario that they know won’t be a simple task.
“Of course we want to win the game. This is the most important game. It is the next game and it’s going to be tough. Close-out games are always tough, especially on their home court. We look forward to it,” Carlos Boozer said of what he expects at the Barclays Center. “Everything that we’ve got in this series. A hard-fought game, a very good team, an explosive team. They’re a very good ballclub and we expect their best.”
Jimmy Butler added: “We need to get it done, so everybody can get their rest and we can get everybody healthy going into the next series. We’re just going to have to play great basketball, limit our mistakes and play extremely hard, play defense and rebound, and hopefully we end up with more points than they do at the end of the game.”
Joakim Noah chimed in: “[The Bulls have a] lot of urgency. We’re trying to come out here, handle our business and move on to the next series. It’s going to take a lot of work, especially without Kirk [Hinrich]. It’s going to be a lot tougher.
“The tougher team usually wins. You’ve got to be mentally tough. Obviously, mentally there’s a little bit of a letdown after any kind of emotional game,” continued the All-Star center, now a veteran of two postseason triple-overtime games. “We can’t let that happen.”
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Nate Robinson, the hero of the Game 4 victory, was succinct about his likely role in replacing injured Hinrich, who suffered a calf injury Saturday.
“Whatever coach wants to me to do,” he said.
Hinrich was confident that Robinson could fill his shoes for the time being, something that occurred frequently during the regular season
“We’ve dealt with injuries all year. Nate’s been huge for us all year,” he said. “He’s had those type of games. He’s a leader for us.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t officially divulge who would start for Hinrich, but he echoed his players sentiment about the importance of the game.
“Well, we’re going to have to play our best game. We know how good they are. We’re going to have to be good on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Close-out games are tough, but we’ll see how it goes tonight. The same things go into winning. We just have to be right and be right at the beginning of the game. It’s important for us to get off to a good start.”
“They’re going to have great urgency, we know how good they are. All these games have been tough, hard-fought games. They usually come down to one or two possessions at the end and you’ve got to make plays.”
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Butler could see time defending Nets point guard Deron Williams, due to Robinson’s size disadvantage — Robinson mostly guarded Brooklyn small forward Gerald Wallace in Game 4 — but Robinson will be prepared.
“Super tough,” was how he described defending Williams. “He’s one of the best point guards in the league.”
Robinson also dismissed his ongoing feud with Bulls predecessor C.J. Watson, which crossed the line to physical Saturday.
“It’s not about CJ. It’s about the Nets. Of course we have rivalries with other players. I’m just willing to play hard. It’s not like I’m just going after him. I’m going after each and every guy on that team, all of us. I love the game of basketball,” he said, before being asked about the possibility of the game’s referees keeping a watchful eye on him. “Who knows, man? I don’t think about officiating. I just go out and play.”