Nets, Bulls battle for momentum in Game 4

Nets, Bulls battle for momentum in Game 4

April 27, 2013, 2:30 am
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Mark Strotman

Momentum has played a key role in each of the first three games of the Nets-Bulls series, and Game 4 could bring more of the same when the two teams square off on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at noon with Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski, Sidney Green and Will Perdue.

The writing may have been on the wall when the Bulls and Nets squared off in Brooklyn for Game 1 last week. Brooklyn, the East's No. 4 seed, entered the 2013 playoffs having won six of seven, including road wins over the Celtics and Pacers. The Bulls, on the other hand, had lost four of seven and, with a roster decimated by injury, weren't riding much momentum when the secod season began.

So it wasn't much of a surprise when the home team raced out to a 25-point halftime advantage en route to a 17-point Game 1 win. But one factor of the game that may have been overlooked in that blowout win was the Bulls' fourth-quarter surge. Chicago outscored the Nets 27-17 in the final quarter (54-46 in the second half), and even Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo noted the way the Nets closed out that win was cause for concern.

That rolled over into Game 2, when the Bulls dominated the majority of the contest--despite holding a single-digit lead throughout--en route to a 90-82 win. That game, too, featured a late burst from the Bulls--a 22-11 advantage in the third quarter--that foreshadowed what was to come in Game 3.

And while the Nets jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the first quarter in Chicago, the Bulls responded by outscoring their opponents 46-35 in the second and third quarters combined. The end result was a 79-76 win and 2-1 series advantage for the Bulls, but there was more to the story. The Nets, mired in a massive offensive slump outside of the first six minutes, finished their Game 3 loss on a 14-3 run, and even had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer (a C.J. Watson airball ended the run).

Perhaps those four instances were just coincidences, or maybe momentum in the playoffs has something to it. The Nets face a near-must-win situation but sounded upbeat in the locker room following Game 3. Shooting guard Joe Johnson, who is averaging 16.0 points in the first three games of the series, said the Nets "have a pretty good chance" to win the series. If they want to accomplish that, they'll need to take their momentum from Game 3 and have it translate to this afternoon's contest.

Keep it with Comcast SportsNet all afternoon to get the hometown call with Neil and Stacey, and get interactive with Bulls Pulse. Use #BullsTalk on Twitter to join the conversation, and follow @CSNBullsInsider for any and all Bulls updates.