EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They delivered the first blow Friday night, pounding the Bulls in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, but the Nets weren't about to pat themselves on the back Sunday.
In their minds, not only did they simply do what they were supposed to do, given they have homecourt advantage. But they're awaiting Chicago's expected bounce back in Monday's Game 2 and understand the importance of taking their best-of-seven series to the Windy City with a 2-0 mark.
"The first one is easy," Deron Williams said before practice at the PNY Center. "You are ready for it. You are excited, the fans are excited. So, this one is going to be the one to get to see where we are at. We have to have that same energy and play with that same pace we did in Game 1 in Game 2."
That, Gerald Wallace agrees, is one of the main challenges the Nets will face. The Barclays Center crowd was really into it and the Nets fed off that atmosphere, riding it to a surprisingly easy victory and handing them their first postseason win over the Bulls in four tries.
"The emotion, the first game at home kind of always favors the home team," Gerald Wallace said, "because of the emotions and energy and everything that’s surrounding the playoff game. The second game is usually the hardest for a team and you have to come back and match that same type of energy and enthusiasm that you had in that first game."
As someone who played for the Bulls under Tom Thibodeau, Keith Bogans knows them as well as anyone on the Nets. Thibodeau is a master of making adjustments and one would tend to think he's looking at the Nets' personnel and trying to find a way to keep their offense from flourishing the way it did in Game 1, when the Nets scored 106 points and shot 55.8 percent from the field.
"Tomorrow’s game is going to be even tougher than last night," Bogans said, "because we kind of put it to them, we drew first blood. Knowing Thibs and the type of coach he is, they are going to come out, and they are going to try to steal one of these games in our building. We can’t have that. We have to protect our home court."
Just how do they do that?
"We’ve got to come back and play better than we played last night," Bogans said. "It's going to be hard, but we can definitely do it."
P.J. Carlesimo stressed the difference in the overall mentality of each team once someone takes a series lead. That, of course, particularly happens after the series opener, when the losing team might alter their gameplan or change their strategies up.
"Our guys feel good about what they did last night," the interim coach said. "Obviously, Chicago, Thibs is not a good coach -- he's great coach. They’re going to make adjustment. Their guys are going to come in frothing at the mouth tomorrow. We need to play like we are down 1-0, not up 1-0 and that's always the challenge, to me, of the even-numbered games.
"Even-numbered games are the hard games to get ready for. When it's 2-2, Game 5 everybody is jacked up [or] 3-3, obviously, the first game of the series. When one team has that advantage, which is usually the even-numbered games, that's the hard one."