NEW YORK — The opening weekend of the NBA postseason yields predictable results.
After the first game of any series, fans and media alike are prone to jumping to often off-base conclusions.
But while every game is crucial in a best-of-seven series, the team that strikes the opening salvo isn’t destined to sweep its opponent and the team that loses isn’t destined for a humiliating playoff exit.
It’s with that mentality that the Bulls enter Monday night’s Game 2 against the Nets in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“That’s how the playoffs always are. I think every game is always going to have its own story," Luol Deng said before the team’s morning shootaround at John Jay College in Manhattan. "We’ve just got to focus on tonight and whatever happens tonight, we just have to move on to the next game. But our whole focus is just on tonight. It’s always going to be either ‘the Nets are too good or the Bulls came back, the Bulls had a slump.’ It’s always going to be a story, but us as a team, we’ve just got to focus on tonight.”
The All-Star small forward struggled offensively in Game 1, scoring just six points on 3-for-11 shooting — while Nets counterpart Gerald Wallace, who had been a nonexistent scorer as of late, went for 14 points — but he remains confident that he can get back on track.
[More: Thibodeau faces dilemma entering Game 2]
Still, Deng’s focus, as it always is, remains on the Bulls having a collectively strong effort, though he admits to being conscious of having a better scoring output.
“It’s some of that, but it’s also playing well as a team. I’ve said it before. It doesn’t happen often where we don’t play well as a team and I have a good game. I try to play within the team. I don’t break off plays or what we’re doing too much.
"A lot of times it will seem like I had a bad scoring game, but I look it as I wasn’t aggressive enough, I didn’t shoot enough. I’m not saying every game I want to come out and take 11 shots or even 10 shots, or whatever it is. I’ll definitely be more aggressive, but I don’t try to get caught in all that. I think I’ve been a player who just plays the game and just tries to win,” he continued. “I’ve had bad games before. It’s nothing new. You’re not going to go out there and try to have a bad game on purpose. I thought the game got out of hand early. Should have stayed aggressive, but tried to kind of play our way back into it. But that’s one game. It’s not the first time I ever played that way. But they won the first game at home. It doesn’t really matter how they won. It’s about the corrections that we make, whether they won by one or won by a lot. I think, as a team, we know we could be a lot better and we’ll be a lot better the next game.
“I don’t call it a slump. I had a bad game. I don’t have to do anything. I had a bad game. It happens.”