Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets (-5.5, 180)
Bulls lead best-of-seven series 3-1.
The Chicago Bulls look to close out the first-round series and the Brooklyn Nets attempt to bounce back from Saturday’s collapse as the teams square off in Monday’s Game 5 in Brooklyn. The Bulls won a 142-134 triple-overtime classic to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven series. Chicago rebounded from a 14-point deficit in the final minutes of regulation behind backup guard Nate Robinson. The Nets were 8-of-27 shooting during the three overtimes.
Brooklyn didn’t practice Sunday and coach P.J. Carlesimo aims to have the team forget about the Game 4 setback. “We have to move away from the disappointment and channel it into anger or resolve or whatever else,” Carlesimo said in a Sunday conference call. “We can’t focus on Saturday. We’ve got to focus on Monday – got to be ready at 7 o’clock. We’ve got a one-game season. It’s as simple as that.” Chicago would like to slam the door shut and not give the Nets a chance to get back into the series. “We’ve been fighting through adversity and things all year,” Bulls center Joakim Noah said. “To be in this position now going to Brooklyn – but it’s not going to be easy.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, My9 (Brooklyn),
ABOUT THE BULLS: Robinson had a quarter for the ages when he poured in 23 of his 34 points in Saturday’s fourth quarter. He scored 12 straight points during the game-tying 14-0 run and finished 14-of-23 from the field. “Whenever I’m in the game, I just play with a lot of confidence,” Robinson said afterward. “You kind of have to lie to yourself and feel like you can’t miss.” The 23-point quarter was the second most in franchise history behind Michael Jordan’s 24-point quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1990 playoffs. “It was big shot after big shot,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s what he does. That’s what makes him so valuable. It doesn’t take much to get him going. Once he gets going, he can have a great run.” Robinson scored 35 total points in the first three games.
ABOUT THE NETS: Guard Joe Johnson had 22 points and played 48 minutes in Game 4 despite a painful foot injury. Johnson forced the first overtime with a last-second floater to continue a trend of making clutch shots for Brooklyn. “If you look at the 86 games we’ve played, I think Joe would be up there in terms of last-second or end-of-game (or) overtime plays for the year,” Carlesimo said. In the history of the NBA, has somebody had a better season? Probably. But it’s scary to think about what this year would’ve been like without Joe Johnson.” Johnson is averaging 17.5 points during the series.
* Bulls are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games following a win.
* Over is 8-1 in Nets’ last nine games following a loss.
* Nets are 4-0 ATS in their last four games following an ATS loss.
1. Noah played nearly 39 minutes in the triple-overtime game, which were 14 more than the target due to his bout with plantar fasciitis.
2. Nets C Brook Lopez had 26 points in Game 4 and has topped 20 in each game. He is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocked shots.
3. Bulls PG Kirk Hinrich had 18 points and 14 assists in Game 4 after totaling just nine assists over the first three games.
Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks (-2, 186)
Pacers lead best-of-seven series 2-1.
The Atlanta Hawks were dominated physically in the first two games of the series and had little hope of stopping anything the Indiana Pacers were doing offensively. Coming home seemed to rejuvenate the Hawks in a strong Game 3 performance, and they will be looking to even up the best-of-seven series when they host the Pacers again on Monday. Al Horford led the way as Atlanta went to a bigger lineup and slowed the pace.
The Hawks stifled Indiana in the half court and held it to 27.2 percent shooting in Game 3, including 4-of-25 from beyond the arc. That was a far cry from the first two contests, when the Pacers totaled 220 points and looked like they were on their way to an easy series sweep. Atlanta’s bigger lineup put Josh Smith on Paul George defensively, and the Pacers’ star had some trouble dealing with the added length. The Hawks had that game in hand at the half and gained some momentum going forward.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports South (Atlanta), NBATV
ABOUT THE PACERS: It’s Indiana’s turn to regroup after a dismal performance. The Pacers’ starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson combined to shoot 2-for-15 while reserve guards D.J. Augustin and Orlando Johnson backed them up with a combined 0-for-9 effort. “They came out with a lot of energy, put us on our heels early, and the rest is history,” Hill told reporters. “We turned the ball over a lot and we weren’t getting to the places that we want to get to on the offensive end.” The Hawks made an obvious effort to play with more aggression and Indiana did not respond well to the increased physicality. George posted a triple-double in Game 1 and went for 27 points in Game 2 but was held to 16 on 4-of-11 shooting on Saturday in Atlanta.
ABOUT THE HAWKS: Petro’s move into the starting lineup and the extended use of Ivan Johnson off the bench in the center spot allowed Horford to focus on the offensive end in Game 3. Petro returned home to Miami on Sunday for the birth of his child and will be back in Atlanta and will start for the Hawks. The rotation change also benefited Kyle Korver, who struggled going up directly against George in the first two games as the starter but was free to focus more on the offensive end off the bench and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. The 54-30 halftime lead marked the franchise record for the fewest points allowed in the first half of a playoff game, and included a key play that Atlanta’s players pointed to after the game. Horford was taken down by a flagrant foul in the second quarter and point guard Jeff Teague rushed to his defense, shoving Indiana forward David West and refusing to back down.
* Pacers are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
* Hawks are 1-7 ATS in their last eight home games.
* Over is 9-1 in Pacers’ last 10 games following a loss.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
1. The Hawks have won 12 straight over the Pacers in Atlanta.
2. West (7-for-14) and Ian Mahinmi (1-for-2) were the only Indiana players to shoot at least 50 percent from the field on Saturday.
3. Horford’s 26 points and 16 rebounds in Game 3 marked the first time an Atlanta player had reached at least 25 and 15 in a playoff game since Dikembe Mutombo in 1997.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets (+1.5, 206.5)
Thunder lead best-of-seven series 3-0.
The Oklahoma City Thunder found a way to win without Russell Westbrook and now look to finish off the host Houston Rockets in Monday’s Game 4. The Thunder learned Saturday that Westbrook is done for the postseason after undergoing knee surgery and they edged the Rockets later that night to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference best-of-seven series. Houston recovered from a 26-point deficit to take the lead before succumbing 104-101.
The Rockets are attempting to avoid the sweep and they are lamenting missed opportunities in two of the first three games. “You’ve got to find a way to win these games,” forward Chandler Parsons said after the Game 3 loss. “I think we are learning a lot and growing a lot right now but it is very frustrating. We feel we should be up 2-1 right now and yet we’re down 0-3.” Oklahoma City standout Kevin Durant matched his personal playoff career high with 41 points and hit the decisive 3-pointer while taking 30 shots with Westbrook out. “I just go out there on the court and I knew I had to give it my all no matter what,” Durant said afterward. “That’s what I’m going to do for however many more games we have to play.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Comcast SportsNet Houston
ABOUT THE THUNDER: Second-year guard Reggie Jackson had 14 points in 25 minutes while making his first career start due to Westbrook’s injury. He went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, including two big ones with eight seconds left to provide the final margin. “Reggie did a terrific job,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks. “I’m proud of him, I’m proud of the way he played. He kept his composure during some tough moments of the game.” Durant took over much of the ball-handling responsibilities to take the pressure off Jackson and veteran Derek Fisher spelled Jackson and scored nine points in 24 minutes off the bench.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS: Veteran swingman Francisco Garcia provided a boost by scoring 18 points in 32 minutes off the bench in Game 3. Garcia shadowed Durant most of the second half after Durant scored at will in the first half with 27 points. Garcia figures to again receive a lot of minutes in Game 4 with Houston’s season on the line. Standout James Harden scored 30 points and is averaging 28.7 points in the series but also missed five free throws in Game 3. He shot 85.1 percent from the free-throw line in the regular season. Harden has two 30-point games in the series and three in his career.
* Thunder are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games.
* Rockets are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
* Under is 4-0 in Rockets’ last four overall.
* Under is 8-2-1 in Thunder’s last 11 road games.
1. Houston has made 30 3-pointers in the series but is shooting just 27.8 percent from behind the arc.
2. Thunder PF Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 11 rebounds in Game 3 for his second double-double of the series.
3. Rockets PG Jeremy Lin (chest) is questionable for Game 4. He attempted to play Saturday but left after 18 ineffective minutes.