When the final buzzer sounded on Saturday night, ending the 3rd overtime of the game, the Chicago Bulls took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets.
After an emotional victory like that, the Bulls seemed to have all the momentum heading into Game 5. Most experts were picking the Bulls to win Game 5 and end the Nets inaugural season in Brooklyn.
Then news broke that starting point guard Kirk Hinrich suffered a bruised left calf during the game, and would not play in Game 5. Hinrich is out indefinitely.
This gave the Nets life again, and they did not disappoint in their performance on the court. Brooklyn played well in all facets of the game, securing a 110-91 victory, and cutting the Bulls’ series lead to 3-2.
Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 series deficit, but I’m here to tell you why the Brooklyn Nets are about to be the ninth team to ever accomplish this feat.
Potentially losing Kirk Hinrich for the rest of the series is a humongous loss. Hinrich is the ultimate glue guy for this team, and they are significantly better when he is on the floor. In the four games Hinrich has played in this series, he has a plus/minus of +11. Take away Game 1 from the equation because the entire Bulls team played like crap, and his plus/minus is +30. He is their facilitator on offense, and is a very good defender that has given Deron Williams problems in the past. Game 5 may have shown that he is the Bulls’ most irreplaceable player.
Secondly, Nate Robinson has played out of his mind so far this series. He followed up his spectacular Game 4 performance with another solid one in Game 5 (20 points, 8 assists). Robinson started in place of the injured Hinrich. As explosive as Robinson can be at times, his season numbers show that he isn’t this consistent of a scorer. During the regular season, Nate only shot 43% from the field. In this series, he’s shooting 55% from the floor. You have to expect him to come back to Earth very soon and have a bad day from the floor.
For the Nets, they are finally getting contributions on offense from some of their role players. Gerald Wallace has hit a bunch of big shots over the past two games, something he hadn’t done in about a month. Andray Blatche was productive in Game 4, but for some reason P.J. Carlesimo didn’t play him down the stretch, even when they were struggling on offense (he kept the offensively inept Reggie Evans in there…no idea why). However, Carlesimo quickly learned from his mistakes, and it was Blatche, not Evans who played the games final minutes at the 4-spot. D-Will and Brook Lopez have also played well lately.
Brooklyn has the momentum, and the confidence needed to pull win two more games.
People keep forgetting that if it wasn’t for a C.J. Watson missed fast break dunk late in Game 4, the game probably wouldn’t have even went into a first overtime. If it wasn’t for that and an amazing performance from Nate Robinson in the fourth quarter, the Nets would be up 3-2 in this series. The stars are all aligning for the Nets to become the 9th team in NBA history to advance after being down 3-1 in a Best-Of-7 series.