P.J. looking for first playoff series win

P.J. Carlesimo has never won a playoff series before as a head coach.

So what would it mean to the Brooklyn Nets interim coach to get a victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals?

“It would mean we’ve got to pack Sunday morning, get on a plane, do a quick turnaround and get ready for a really, really good opponent,” Carlesimo said Friday.

Carlesimo, who went 35-19 during the regular season after replacing Avery Johnson, has never been a head coach for a Game 7 either.

“Hopefully I’ll respond well, but fortunately I don’t have to play,” Carlesimo said. “I think the guys that are playing are going to handle it well, and that’s the important thing. We’ll be fine.”

Five of Carlesimo’s players have Game 7 experience: Joe Johnson (2-1), Jerry Stackhouse (2-1), Gerald Wallace (0-3), Deron Williams (1-0) and Reggie Evans (1-0).

“I don’t think Game 7 experience is going to be the defining reason for (who wins) tomorrow’s game,” Carlesimo said. “As is usually the case, the players are going to decide it, some guys are gonna step up and one team is going to play a little bit better than the other team, and that’s going to decide the game.”

Carlesimo wants all his players to be “relaxed and confident” when they take the court.

He believes his team has established the identity many believe its been missing all season.

“I think we’ve found it more and more as the year’s gone on, and I think that’s a natural thing,” Carlesimo said. “It’s the first time this group has been together. There’s not great continuity on this team even from the last couple years. Hopefully there will be going forward, but I do think now we’re 88 games into the regular season and the playoffs, and I think clearly there’s a collective persona with those 15 guys. And I do think it is the Brooklyn Nets, not a collection of individuals.”

Even though Johnson (foot) and Andray Blatche (calf) are banged up and Reggie Evans wasn’t feeling well going into Game 6, Carlesimo said he expects all of his players to be able to go on Saturday night.

The Bulls, on the other hand, may once again be short-handed. According to ESPN Chicago.com’s Nick Friedell, Luol Deng (flu) was hospitalized Friday and is doubtful for Game 7. Kirk Hinrich (calf), who has missed the last two games of the series, is a game-time decision and will travel. Nate Robinson (flu) and Taj Gibson (flu) are feeling better, and Joakim Noah (foot) appears to be fine as well. Thibodeau has gotten no indication that Derrick Rose will play in Game 7.

The Bulls are 0-6 all-time in road Game 7s. The Nets have played just one Game 7 in franchise history -- a road loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 East semis.