Among the benefits of experience is realizing how the playoffs are supposed to work on a team and on every player. At 30, Gerald Wallace knows this. His mind tells him, and so do his joints.
"I'm tired right now. That's how you're supposed to feel after a playoff game: tired, sore," the Nets forward said.
He earned those aches with a youthful, energetic, aggressive performance in his team's 106-89 Game 1 win over the Bulls at Barclays Center. His highlight moment was a blocked shot that was more of a mid-air steal. He didn't slap Jimmy Butler's attempt; he went up and caught the ball after it left Butler's hand.
More consistently impressive, though, was Wallace's 14-point effort on offense. It came out of the blue for a player who averaged 5.7 points and 33.9 percent shooting after the All-Star break.
Wallace admitted toward the end of the regular season that his confidence was so far gone that he was trying not to shoot. On Saturday night, he drove to the basket and occasionally popped three-point attempts.
"My main thing was to be more aggressive, put more pressure on their defense, get in situations where they've got to guard,'' he said. "They probably didn't see that in the first four games we played them. It's probably something new to them. It forced them to do something they didn't want to do defensively."
Said Brook Lopez, "That's what we need him to do. That's what we know he's capable of. He's always going to be an energy guy, and when he's playing like that, he takes us to another level.''
Twelve years of "energy" can take their toll, though. Wallace had to do some serious regrouping for the playoffs. "A fresh start, a new season," he said. "There's no 'OK, well, we'll chalk this one up and come back tomorrow.' Four losses and we're at home." Even after a night's fatigue, he said, "You know I am not ready to go home right now."