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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM

It took longer than expected, but Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets is now having the kind of impact on the floor everyone was expecting when he first joined the team. Williams was in peak form in the final weeks of the regular season. Then, he completely controlled the first half of Game One in the Chicago/Brooklyn series Saturday Night…a half won by the Nets 60-35.

Game Two goes Monday night, and Chicago has no hope of competing in this matchup if they can’t at least slow down Williams.



22 points on 9 of 15 shooting

7 assists

+24 points in plus/minus

All that came in just 35 minutes of game action.

It’s important to note that Saturday Night wasn’t only about Williams. The Bulls played so soft defensively that several Nets had big games.

*Brook Lopez scored 21 points on 7 of 15 from the floor and 7 of 7 from the free throw line. The East lacks great big men…which means Lopez is a rare commodity who can do damage in the paint. Chicago’s defense has to worry about both Williams and Lopez.

*Joe Johnson scored 16 points in 28 minutes. He’s not every going to be the #1 star on a great team. If he’s the #1 star…it’s not a great team! But, as a #3 option…that’s a headache to deal with for any defense.

*C.J. Watson is a backup point guard who was 6 of 8 from the floor. You get the sense that Chicago’s defense had no idea how to deal with whoever was handling the ball. That’s amazing for a team with such a great defensive reputation. But, the Nets are well suited to deal with what Chicago’s defense brings to the table…particularly if Deron Williams is in peak form.

And, oh…by the way…Joakim Noah of Chicago doesn’t look like he’s going to be a defensive factor. He can’t move well at all, and is in constant pain. Noah played only 13 minutes Saturday. It’s a credit to his toughness that his plus/minus was only -4 in those 13 minutes…in a game the Bulls lost by 17 after trailing by 25 at the half. The one thing Noah needs right now is time to heel. Coming back so quickly on a Monday Night for Game Two is very bad luck in that regard.

Does Chicago have a chance to compete in Game Two…or in this series? Well, we’ve seen a lot of matchups over the years where the loser of Game One came back to spring an upset in Game Two…and then the series. New Jersey probably isn’t going to shoot 56% from the floor again (62% inside the arc). And, the Nets did have issues with consistency this season. The favorite isn’t a franchise that has much experience dealing with good times. Yes…Chicago has a chance.

But…Game One was a blowout for a reason. New Jersey has more potent and varied weaponry on offense. Chicago’s only chance is to play great defense while trying to win a low scoring game. No way that happens if you’re allowing easy runs to the basket while not forcing turnovers (only 8 giveaways for the Nets Saturday, even with extended garbage time). How can the Bulls fix what looks to be a mismatch at the point guard position?

The version of the Bulls we saw Saturday has no chance to last more than five games. They’d BETTER pick up the pace quickly or the players will be joining Derrick Rose in preparation for the 2013-14 season in very short order.

JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his New York area sources to make sure he has the right sides in both Bulls/Nets and Celtics/Knicks this week. It’s very likely that we’ll have a selection from Brooklyn on the Monday card, along with something special in Game Two of Grizzlies/Clippers. You can always purchase game day releases here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you tomorrow to preview Game Two of that Boston/New York series with stat notes and insights gathered from our on-site sources. Vegas is at the mercy of the exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach that’s been working for more than two decades here at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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