NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, May 4th (All times Eastern)
(5) Chicago Bulls (3-3) at (4) Brooklyn Nets (3-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The first Game 7 of the NBA playoffs is set for Saturday when the Brooklyn Nets host the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Nets have won the last two to force this decisive game at the Barclays Center.
"It's going to be whose will takes over the game," said Chicago's Carlos Boozer.
After the Bulls grinded out a triple-overtime thriller in Chicago for Game 4, the Nets responded. They pulled away from the Bulls in the fourth quarter in Game 5, then managed to get a victory over a depleted Chicago team on Thursday.
The Bulls have been without Kirk Hinrich since Game 4 because of a calf injury. His availability for Game 7 is unknown, but it's been reported he won't play.
In Game 6, the Bulls, who have been without former MVP Derrick Rose all season and postseason, were ravaged by the flu. Luol Deng couldn't get cleared to play and Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson were clearly hampered.
"A couple of times I felt like throwing up during the game, but you really can't call timeout for that," said Robinson, who sat in front of a bucket when he wasn't on the floor. "I didn't know if they'd call a foul on me if I threw up on Deron (Williams). I'll have to check the rule book on that one."
Robinson gutted out 18 points and played almost 42 minutes. Jimmy Butler played the whole 48 minutes and netted 17 points and Marco Belinelli logged almost 47 minutes and paced the Bulls with 22 points.
Joakim Noah is still battling plantar fascitis, but went more than 43 minutes. He posted 14 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.
"We're a team of fighters. We keep getting punched in the face but we fight back," said Noah. "I'm proud of this team. We're going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn and we're going to win."
Bold proclamations aside, the Bulls don't have a great record in Game 7s. They've played nine Game 7s and lost all six they've played on the road.
Brooklyn worked all season to earn the home-court advantage and it might pay off on Saturday, although the Bulls took Game 2 at the Barclays Center.
"Things are looking a lot better for us than they did when we were leaving here last Saturday," said Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. "It is fortunate for us that our guys have earned home court. There is no guarantee, but I would rather be there."
Williams, Joe Johnson, who is also battling plantar fascitis, and Brook Lopez led the way for the Nets in Game 6 with 17 points apiece. Williams also handed out 11 assists.
Gerald Wallace chipped in 15 points, but also air-balled a free throw and a layup. Andray Blatche was huge for the Nets on Thursday. He made three foul shots with under 32 seconds to go to preserve the victory.
Since the Nets joined the NBA in the 1976-77 season, they've only played one Game 7 -- a loss to the Pistons in Detroit in the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The winner of this series will meet the defending champion Miami Heat on Monday night.
"We have a lot of heart. We are a very resilient team," said Carlesimo. "That is also true for the Bulls. It's been a pretty good series when you can get it to a seventh game."
05/04 10:23:11 ET