Brooklyn Nets know what they have to do in Chicago

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

It's fairly simple: the Nets have to steal a game on the Bulls homecourt this weekend. If they do, they go home in great shape. If they don't, the loss in Game 2 will look a lot worse.

The Nets have looked like two different teams thus far. In the first, they looked like world beaters, championship contenders with a crisp offense and a more than adequate defense, all of it fueled by Deron Williams' confidence. In the second, they hit 4-of-21 three pointers, got pushed around and their franchise player couldn't seem to get untracked. Part of it, no doubt, was Tom Thibodeau's defensive adjustments but part of it may have just been a bad shooting night. We shall see.

The Bulls are by no means unbeatable in Chi-town. Their home record this season was only one game better than the Nets' road record (24 wins to 23) ... despite the United Center's reputation as a tough place to play. Both teams have one player down to plantar fasciitis. Joakim Noah's case may be worse, but Joe Johnson's may be more problematic because of the position he plays.

"Yeah, but it's a little different for me and Noah," Johnson said. "I'm chasing guys off screens, penetrating and cutting, and he's a big man so it's a lot different."

Thibodeau is sure Johnson will play and be effective. "Joe's a great player. In his career he's done amazing things. He shoots the ball, he puts it on the floor, he can post, he can pass. I got great respect for what he's done in the league." No doubt, he has a plan to stop him, too.

The game starts at 8:30 and can be found on MY9 in New York and NBA TV nationally and internationally.

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