On Call, Carlesimo Resets the Mindset for Game Six

By Ben Couch
BROOKLYNNETS.COM
April 30, 2013 · 2:09 p.m.

Returning to Brooklyn provided exactly what the Nets needed to get back on track in their First Round series against the Bulls: home-court advantage. With 110-91 victory they controlled throughout, the Nets extended their run with a trip to United Center for Game Six. Brooklyn Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo is expecting his team to wield the same "desperation" they played with following losses in Game Two, Three and Four, which led to strong starts each time.

Carlesimo took time during the off day to join team reporters on a conference call and discuss the outlook as the Nets trail the Bulls, 3 games to 2.

 

On the series so far:

"The games have all been different. I really believe that both teams legitimately feel that they're better than the other team. Both think they're capable of winning. It's not convincing anybody that they're better than the other team or that they can win. It's just, 'Let's go out and play the game and see what happens.' I think there's enough legitimate confidence on both sides to go around."

Thus far, the Nets won the opener handily before the Bulls ground out Game Two. Moving to Chicago, the third was a two-team slog; the fourth, a triple-overtime shootout. Five was close for 40 minutes, but blown open by Brooklyn in the final stretch. Kirk Hinrich's absence, due to a bruised left calf, limited Chicago on both ends: he defended Deron Williams for nearly all of Williams' minutes in the first four games, and his heady play at the point provides a steadying force and also a platform for Nate Robinson's bench explosions. The dropoff from Hinrich/Robinson to Robinson and either two-guard Marco Belinelli or rookie point Marquis Teague is significant. All three can score, but none approach Hinrich's combination of defense and reliability.

 

On C.J. Watson's fiesty matchup with Nate Robinson:

"They're both playing with a lot of emotion, and they're both playing very well. It seems to have had a positive impact on both of them, rather than have them try to do too much or get frustrated or let their emotions get the best of them. They both seem to be feeding off it in a positive way.

"I think C.J. is playing very, very well right now, as well as he's played at any point, but I don't want to minimize all the good games he's had during the regular season either."

The backup point guards have spent the series attacking each other, both in the basketball sense and also one memorable tangled tussle in Game Three. Watson, Chicago's erstwhile backup, has raised his game this postseason, averaging 9.2 points on .439 shooting in 24.2 minutes per game; Robinson, the current one, notably scored 23 points in a furious fourth-quarter flurry to tie Game Four in regulation. Watson entered this matchup claiming his only concern was winning, but he's playing as if there's salt in the wounds suffered during a rough performance last season. Expect more fireworks from these two in Thursday's Game Six.

 

On Andray Blatche's left calf:

"(It's) sore, very sore. I don't know if 'cramping up' is the right term, but I almost got him out at the timeout that was under three minutes, and then again after. (Athletic trainer Tim Walsh) was working on his calf during the timeouts. He was obviously affected, but he didn't want to come out and he was playing well, so we stayed with it."

Brooklyn's backup center has been a boon off the bench, with playoff numbers (10.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, .523 FG%) right at his regular-season averages. Blatche has played significant stretches alongside starter Brook Lopez, as Carlesimo seeks better spacing and effective offense. Several times, the pairing has served as a temporary antidote to Chicago flooding the strong side, especially because either big man is capable of shooting from the perimeter. Yet Blatche suffered some sort of calf injury late in Game Five, and if he's at all limited, another Nets big will need to fill the gap. It could be Kris Humphries, who notably posted a 4-of-5 shooting, eight-point second quarter Monday.

 

On whether he's tried to 'attack' Joakim Noah due to plantar fasciitis:

"
Not really. Because we try to do that all the time. Our philosophy is always to go to Brook and go to Dray every time we can. It's always been a little bit of a challenge because both of them are good jump shooters and like every big in basketball, they want to go shoot jump shots and we're trying to push them into the paint, where they can hurt people inside and can hurt people on the glass. Joakim been playing hurt and been playing noticeably hurt all series, but has been extremely effective.

"He's one of those guys you've got to put a wood stake through his heart. Whether he's hurt or he's limping or whatever, on the next play he's always apt to beat you. It wasn't 'Oh, look he's injured – let's go at him!' Not at all.

"I have great respect for him, and I'm used to him looking like he's injured right now, and kind of the way Joe (Johnson) is right now. Joe's not moving quite the way we're used to seeing Joe move, but he's playing big minutes. He's given us enormous minutes and really good production. He's playing big minutes in an affected medical situation. He's handling it real well and I'd say the same for joakim."

Noah, playing despite an injury severely limited his playing time down the stretch, has struggled to produce statistically: limited to just 26.6 minutes through five games (36.8 in the regular season), Noah is averaging four fewer points and three fewer rebounds. He's finding ways to channel his contributions though, posting 2.2 blocks and coming up with several clutch baskets and defensive plays for Chicago – similar to Johnson, who as Carlesimo notes is also dealing with plantar fasciitis and notably hit a pair of game-tying shots in the first of Saturday's three overtimes.

On the team growing together:

"
The teams that have been together and been through playoff situations and  particularly the ones that have enjoyed success in the playoffs, that's just one more little plus for those teams going in. It doesn't ensure anything, but it's something you'd like to have. And the only way you acquire it is by going through the process. How do you acquire experience? You go out and you do it. This is really beneficial for us. it's the only good thing about playing long series. Everybody would love a four-game series, but these are really good to go through as a learning experience and will serve us well hopefully not just this week going forward, but in the future."

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