The Bulls welcomed a trip to Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs last season. As several players indicated at the start of that series, the Nets were a ‘‘gutless’’ team, void of any real heart, especially late in games.
It proved to be an accurate assessment, especially after the undermanned Bulls won Game 7 at the Barclays Center.
But this latest version of the Nets? There’s a reason the team added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the offseason. Call it a double-dip of playoff toughness — heart and guts coming in a package deal from Boston.
So while the Bulls maintain they aren’t looking at playoff matchups yet and wouldn’t entertain the idea of jockeying for playoff position, winning the No. 3 seed and having to deal with the Washington Wizards or Charlotte Bobcats would be a win if they have hopes of advancing to the second round.
Best advice: Avoid the Nets and make the Toronto Raptors have to deal with them.
◆ Carlos Boozer has suddenly turned into former White Sox pitcher Jon Garland: Get him in for five good innings and then get him out.
◆ It didn’t take Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson very long to lose the team, now, did it?
◆ Remember when the Cleveland Cavaliers actually thought they had a chance to get LeBron James back? That was funny. Silly Cleveland.
Player of the week
LeBron James, Miami Heat forward. Don’t blame the Heat’s stumbles in the last week on James. Between calling out his teammates, the four-time MVP averaged 31.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists over a three-game span. Now, if he could only heal Dwyane Wade’s knees.
Team of the week
San Antonio Spurs. It’s like autopilot for the first few months of the season, then flip the switch as the playoffs get closer, then duck if you play in the Western Conference, because here come the Spurs. All that talk about the competitive West and the Spurs look like the team that will be standing . . . again.
The big five
1. Heat. 2. Spurs. 3. Oklahoma City Thunder. 4. Indiana Pacers. 5. Los Angeles Clippers.
Awful for Andrew
The three teams bad enough to start tanking in hopes of drafting Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins: 1. Milwaukee Bucks. 2. Philadelphia 76ers. 3. Orlando Magic.
7.0 Assists Bulls center Joakim Noah averaged in his last 10 games before Friday. In the 10 games Derrick Rose played this season, he averaged 4.3 assists.
Two to watch
Spurs at Pacers, 6 p.m. Monday. The Pacers need to start showing they’re ready for the postseason, and beating the red-hot Spurs would be a statement.
Spurs at Thunder, 7 p.m. Thursday. Western Conference heavyweights square off.