Three things to like about this team heading into their playoff series with the Bulls:
1. Deron Williams’ play: Few have been hotter than Williams since the All-Star break. He’s rejuvenated after undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy, getting cortisone injections in both ankles to calm the inflammation and participating in a juice cleanse program that’s helped him shed 20 pounds.
2. Road tested: These aren’t your father’s Nets when it comes to their play away from home. The Nets collected a single-season franchise-best 23 road wins, tying them for the second-best mark in the conference, and some of their most telling victories have come away from the Barclays Center.
3. The Bench: P.J. Carlesimo actually has too many options to pull off his bench and had to find ways to tighten the rotation a few times this season. C.J. Watson Keith Bogans and Andray Blatche, in particular, have provided big boosts in reserve and the Nets could use that same production in the postseason.
Three things to be concerned about:
1. Gerald Wallace’s confidence: The 12th-year forward brings so many intangibles with his rugged, all-out style. But he’s struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket and is passing up open shots. He has to score consistently if the Nets are going to make a deep run.
2. Joe Johnson’s sore heel: The nagging injury that caused him to miss the better part of 10 games since the All-Star break appears to be improving. Johnson says he feels good and he starting to make more moves off the dribble, which are positive indicators.
3. What might loom ahead in the second round: Should the Nets fare well enough to knock off the Bulls, a team that won the four-game-season series 3-1, their reward will be none other than the defending champs. The Nets went 0-3 against the Heat, losing by an average of 21 points.