The Brooklyn Nets were confident heading into Saturday night’s Game 7.
Williams and the Nets had the healthier team and home-court advantage. But they were outplayed by a significantly undermanned Bulls squad that just wanted it more. The Nets played a horrible first half and trailed by 17 heading into the locker room.
Even though they fought back and made a game of it, the deficit was too much to overcome.
“They came at us, and we didn’t match their intensity,” said Williams, who finished with 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds in 41 minutes.
“They came out and they wanted the game more than we did,” added Gerald Wallace, who played valiantly in defeat, scoring 11 of his playoff career-high 19 points in the third quarter. “They were the aggressive one. They were the ones that played like they weren’t ready for their season to end, like they wanted to keep playing, and we didn’t do anything in the first half. We didn’t play any defense, we didn’t box out, we didn’t hit them off their spots. They ran what they wanted to, and we sat back on our heels.”
Now, the offseason begins.
“We had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of turmoil, a lot of things to fight through, but we still had fun doing it,” Williams said. “I think this is going to make us tough as a group, it’s kind of a learning experience for all of us.
“It just shows we’ve still got a ways to go.”
For the series, his first playoff series as a Net, Williams averaged 20.6 points and 8.4 assists.
“When you lose a series, you wish you could’ve done more, and that’s how I look at it,” he said.
What areas do the Nets need to improve in next season?
“It’s so early to say,” Williams replied. “I think we have a great group of guys in the locker room, but as I said, we talked about the word 'inconsistency' all year.
“We just need to find a way to be more consistent -- especially mentally. I think that’s what got us this series is the mental breakdowns. We’ve been a team this year that’s had stretches -- whether it be a quarter or two quarters -- where it just seems like the wheels fall off all at once and we can’t get it back, and that’s what happened tonight.
“It was the second quarter [the Nets were outscored 32-19] where we just couldn’t buy a basket, couldn’t get a stop, and that’s what can’t happen if you want to be an elite team.”