With each passing day, it appears less and less likely Derrick Rose will play in this year's post-season. The Bulls are cagey but there's no indication that after a full year off, Rose will return for the playoffs. If he does, how much could he bring? In fact, the latest is that he won't return until training camp.
Deron Williams, on the other hand, may be playing the best basketball of his career and is looking forward to the playoff challenge, his first as a Net but not his first in the NBA. "It’s been two years since I’ve been there, so I’m ready to go," he told writers Thursday.
That said, the big battle is likely to take place up front where the Bulls have one solid starter in Carlos Boozer --a noted Nets killer-- along with forwards Taj Gibson, recovering from a knee injury; and Joakim Noah, with plantar faschicitis. The Nets bigs are healthy, although Reggie Evans has a bit of a shoulder issue which he says will not affect his play.
Of course, there's always doubt about how a player will react when faced with the do-or-die aspect of the playoffs. His teammates are not worried about Brook Lopez.
"Hell, yeah," Evans said when asked if Lopez was ready to go. "Man, look at Brook. Brook is probably, what, a top-two big man? Brook is a whole different person right now, and that's in a good way. Can't nobody stop him. Only person that can stop Brook is Brook. That's it. Brook is a beast right now. Brook is on a mission, so it's great to be playing beside him. He's my least concern in terms of being ready."
"That's the one plus from Jo and Taj being out. I think it got Nazr into rhythm," Thibodeau said. "He has done a great job all year just working even when he wasn't playing"
Of the two, Noah is the bigger concern. He logged only 28 minutes, 42 seconds over the final two regular-season games after sitting 12 of the previous 13.
Thus far, the punditry is divided, with a slim majority --six out of 10-- of ESPN writers picking the Bulls, with Tom Haberstroh, Marc Stein, David Thorpe and Michael Wallace going with Brooklyn. The most optimistic is Thorpe who has the Nets in five.
- Brook Lopez excited about playing in his first postseason game - Rod Boone - Newsday
Three things to like/not like about Nets - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Many twists and turns in Nets' season - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Evans’ teaching gives Lopez boost - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Scouting the Bulls - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Rose return not ruled out - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Williams starts building legacy now - George Willis - New York Post
- That’$ the ticket - Rich Calder & Bob Fredericks - New York Post
- NBA Playoffs Round 1: Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls, will Derrick Rose play? - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Brook Lopez could make the difference in playoff series - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Deron Williams resurgence keys Brooklyn Nets berth in NBA Playoffs - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Knicks, Nets in playoffs returns NYC to status as the basketball city - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Bulls' Noah uncertain vs. Nets - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- D-Will takes long road back to postseason - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Reggie Evans: Brook Lopez "top 2" among NBA's big men - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Playoffs Preview: How the Nets can beat the Bulls - Jason Schott - Brooklyn Fans
- For Lopez, Career Year Moves Into First Postseason - Josh Newman - SNY Nets
- With Rose’s Status Unknown, Nets Going About Their Business - Josh Newman - SNY Nets
- NBA playoffs: Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls preview - Rob Mahoney - Sports Illustrated
- 2013 NBA Playoffs: East players to watch - Israel Guttierez - ESPN
- Nets Pose Tough Test For Bulls (Video) - ESPN Chicago
- Expect Derrick Rose back for training camp - K.C. Johnson - Chicago Tribune
- Playoffs homecoming of sorts for Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah - K.C.Johnson - Chicago Tribune
- Bulls are counting on Nazr Mohammed against Brooklyn Nets - K.C. Johnson - Chicago Tribune
- Fifth-seeded Bulls get what they wanted: Nets in first round - Joe Cowley - Chicago Sun-Times
- Three key matchups for Bulls vs. Nets - Joe Cowley - Chicago Sun-Times
- No true identity for Bulls, but ‘playoff threat’ suddenly seems to fit - Rich Telander - Chicago Sun-Times