The last major league playoff game in Brooklyn took place on Oct. 10, 1956. That’ll change Saturday night, when the Nets host the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Tipoff is 8 p.m. ET (ESPN). Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
INJURED BULLS: The Bulls may be without Joakim Noah (foot), who is a game-time decision. Noah is regarded as one of the best defensive big men in the league, and anchors a Chicago defense that finished fifth in defensive efficiency. Even if Noah does play, he is expected to come off the bench and be limited. Advantage Nets. Derrick Rose was ruled out for Game 1 and possibly the entire series, coach Tom Thibodeau said at morning shootaround.
D-WILL: Since the All-Star break, Deron Williams has been averaging 22.9 points and 8.0 assists. Williams is back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season. It’s been a while. D-Will was a terrific postseason performer in Utah. Given the way he’s been playing of late, don’t expect that to change.
BROOK-LYN: Brook Lopez, coming off a season in which he finished fifth in the NBA in PER and made his first All-Star team, will play in his first playoff game. It should be an exciting time for a member of the 2009-10 team that went 12-70 when it was the New Jersey Nets. Lopez averaged 22 points per game against the Bulls in the regular season.
KEY MATCHUP: Gerald Wallace vs. Luol Deng. Deng, much of the time guarded by Wallace, shot just 39.3 percent in four games against the Nets this season. Chicago doesn’t have many offensive weapons. Wallace’s defense on Deng is going to be key in this series.
IMPORTANT: The Nets are 7-2 all-time in best-of-7 series when winning Game 1, according to the Elias Sports Bureau; they are just 1-5 in best-of-7s when losing Game 1.
BLACKOUT IN BROOKLYN: The atmosphere inside Barclays Center is expected to be electric. The Nets are giving out free black T-shirts to their fans, and have put in a request with the NBA to wear black uniforms.