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Brooklyn Nets face "one-game season" Monday

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After eight pre-season games, 82 regular season games and four playoff games, the Nets face their fate

USA TODAY Sports

It's quite simple now: if the Nets win Monday night in Brooklyn, they will get a chance to redeem themselves in Chicago Thursday and the possibility of facing the Heat in Miami next week. If they lose, their first season in Brooklyn will end, not quite in failure, but in deep disappointment at what might have been.

As P.J. Carlesimo told reporters Sunday...

We’re not asking them to do something we haven’t done before: we have to score, we have to rebound, we have to defend – we can do all those things. We just have to do it for 48 minutes. There are rational reasons to feel confident going into this game. We’re not talking about anything but tomorrow right now.

Indeed, the Bulls haven't won four straight all season. That's one "rational reason." Another might be that the Nets solved the Bulls defense on Saturday. After averaging 79 points in Games 2 and 3, Brooklyn scored nearly twice that much, 134 points, in seven periods and 111 in four. The Nets, being healthier and deeper, might enjoy an advantage there as well. Kirk Hinrich (calf) is out after playing 60 minutes Saturday. No knows how Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) will fare after a superhuman 40 minute effort. The Nets injury report is clean.

A less rational reason might be that the Nets now fully understand that the Bulls see them as "heartless and gutless." As professionals, that should matter to them.

Moreover, the Sun-Times writer who said the Bulls consider the Nets "gutless and heartless" quoted a player directly Monday as saying of Brooklyn, “Not a lot of heart. Watch what happens to them late in close games.’’ Joe Cowley also quoted Taj Gibson as saying he believed the Bulls are "tougher" than the Nets and said Brooklyn's brand of iso ball can't match Chicago's team ball.

Of course, the Bulls have some rational reasons too, like how no team down 3-1 has returned to win a playoff series in seven years and only eight have ever done it. They also have Tom Thibodeau who virtually everyone believes has outcoached Carlesimo in this series.

So, it is officially the biggest game of the season and maybe even the last. It would be a hard pill to swallow in Brooklyn. It starts early, at 7 p.m.