NEW YORK —
So the Bulls know never to expect anything to come easily, certainly not a close-out game on their opponent’s home floor. The Nets are 5-0 in Game 5s at home.
“They’re going to be in their building, so they’re going to have juice and energy from the crowd,” forward Carlos Boozer said. “For us, we just have to stay focused, poised, tighten up our defense.”
Indeed, the Bulls aren’t used to having to rely on something like the 29 points Robinson scored after the third quarter. They prefer to lean on their defense but realize there are some nights against teams like the Nets where they will have to win by making shots.
“The thing is, you’ve got to win different ways,” Thibodeau said. “They make shots. Some of the plays were defended well. We knew that going in. You can’t let your guard down against them. They’re a great team. They’ve shown that all year. We know we’re going to have to play our best game tomorrow.”
Only eight NBA teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit, yet Carlesimo remained optimistic Sunday — even talking about the days off in between Game 6 and Game 7. He believes the Nets have outplayed the Bulls for long enough stretches during the series to think they can do it for an entire game.
“I mean, we know it should be 2-2, and you know the whole line of questioning would be totally different. But it’s not, it’s 3-1, and that’s our fault and we’ve got to deal with it,” Carlesimo said on a conference call. “But we know how close it was to being 2-2 and a totally different scenario.
“Playoffs are a game at a time. The mindset will be totally different tomorrow night and if we can get the job done it’ll be totally different going into Thursday.”