EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Brooklyn Nets won 49 games this season and have home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.
And yet ...
“As good a year as we’ve had, I still think we’re fighting for respect,” interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “And that respect will come [if we advance].”
The fourth-seeded Nets open up their series with the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls on Saturday night in Game 1 at Barclays Center. The Bulls will be without Derrick Rose and possibly Joakim Noah, too. Noah is a game-time decision. The Nets, on the other hand, are the healthiest they’ve been in a while.
And yet ...
“I think even though we have the fourth seed, I think a lot of people are picking the Bulls,” Deron Williams said. “But we wanna win the series. We feel like we can win the series if we play basketball the way we’re capable of playing.
“I think we’ve got a chip on our shoulder just because how the year has been, the ups and downs we’ve had, the setbacks here and there. We’re excited. We’re excited about this opportunity. We’re ready to go.”
Williams hasn’t played a playoff game since May 10, 2010.
“It feels like a long time. But it’s fresh,” he said. “I definitely remember the last series I had.”
No Net on the current roster has ever won an NBA title before.
“If you don’t have a championship under your belt, you have that hunger to win one, at least if you’re a competitor I think,” Williams said.
Joe Johnson has never gotten out of the second round in his career.
“I’m driven from the fact I’m in a new situation with some great teammates,” Johnson said. “I think the sky’s the limit for us honestly. We have some great pieces on this team.
“We don’t really care about the naysayers. We’re just gonna come out and try to handle our business the way we know how.”
Some interesting notes from Elias ...
• Game 1 marks Carlesimo’s first playoff appearance as a head coach since 1997. Of the 469 players who appeared in at least one game during the 2012-13 season, only 13 came into the league prior to that last appearance. Jerry Stackhouse was one of them.
• Reggie Evans averaged 21.7 rebounds per 48 minutes played during the regular season. Over the last 38 seasons, only one other player has averaged that many rebounds per 48 minutes while playing at least 1,500 minutes in a season: Dennis Rodman, who did it six times in the 1990s.
• The Nets were only 15-27 (.357) against teams that finished the season with a . 500 or better winning percentage. That was tied with Atlanta for the worst record in those games among the 16 teams that are competing in the 2013 playoffs.