(Sports Network) - The first Game 7 of the NBA playoffs is set for Saturday
when the Brooklyn Nets host the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference
The Nets have won the last two to force this decisive game at the Barclays
"It's going to be whose will takes over the game," said Chicago's Carlos
After the Bulls grinded out a triple-overtime thriller in Chicago for Game 4,
the Nets responded. They pulled away from the Bulls in the fourth quarter in
Game 5, then managed to get a victory over a depleted Chicago team on
The Bulls have been without Kirk Hinrich since Game 4 because of a calf
injury. His availability for Game 7 is unknown, but it's been reported he
In Game 6, the Bulls, who have been without former MVP Derrick Rose all season
and postseason, were ravaged by the flu. Luol Deng couldn't get cleared to
play and Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson were clearly hampered.
"A couple of times I felt like throwing up during the game, but you really
can't call timeout for that," said Robinson, who sat in front of a bucket when
he wasn't on the floor. "I didn't know if they'd call a foul on me if I threw
up on Deron (Williams). I'll have to check the rule book on that one."
Robinson gutted out 18 points and played almost 42 minutes. Jimmy Butler
played the whole 48 minutes and netted 17 points and Marco Belinelli logged
almost 47 minutes and paced the Bulls with 22 points.
Joakim Noah is still battling plantar fascitis, but went more than 43 minutes.
He posted 14 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.
"We're a team of fighters. We keep getting punched in the face but we fight
back," said Noah. "I'm proud of this team. We're going to go into a hostile
environment in Brooklyn and we're going to win."
Bold proclamations aside, the Bulls don't have a great record in Game 7s.
They've played nine Game 7s and lost all six they've played on the road.
Brooklyn worked all season to earn the home-court advantage and it might pay
off on Saturday, although the Bulls took Game 2 at the Barclays Center.
"Things are looking a lot better for us than they did when we were leaving
here last Saturday," said Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. "It is fortunate
for us that our guys have earned home court. There is no guarantee, but I
would rather be there."
Williams, Joe Johnson, who is also battling plantar fascitis, and Brook Lopez
led the way for the Nets in Game 6 with 17 points apiece. Williams also handed
out 11 assists.
Gerald Wallace chipped in 15 points, but also air-balled a free throw and a
layup. Andray Blatche was huge for the Nets on Thursday. He made three foul
shots with under 32 seconds to go to preserve the victory.
Since the Nets joined the NBA in the 1976-77 season, they've only played one
Game 7 -- a loss to the Pistons in Detroit in the 2004 Eastern Conference
The winner of this series will meet the defending champion Miami Heat on
"We have a lot of heart. We are a very resilient team," said Carlesimo. "That
is also true for the Bulls. It's been a pretty good series when you can get it
to a seventh game."
The Sports Network