James Harden and Kevin Durant combined for 52 points in the Nets’ 138-112 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.

James Harden and Kevin Durant mixed for 52 factors within the Nets’ 138-112 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
Illustration: Getty Photos

A superb portion of followers, most I’d say, fail to acknowledge simply how lengthy the NBA season is. Goes for the NHL and MLB ones, too. It’s at all times laborious to clarify to quite a lot of them that there are nights within the center, or possibly on the second of a back-to-back or the final of a 4 video games in six nights, when gamers simply can’t fairly rise up for it. Perhaps you don’t battle over that display screen, or go after that free ball, or can discover the spring to get that rebound. There’s quite a lot of followers who will inform you it’s entitlement or laziness, nevertheless it’s simply human nature. There’s 82 of those over six months. As fantastic of a job as being an NBA participant is, it’s nonetheless a job that may slog like another.

NBA coaches know this. They’ll rant after sure losses, however after others you’ll see them shrug it off. They’re not going to indicate all their playing cards earlier than the video games actually matter. You possibly can’t press these buttons on a regular basis. There are solely so many changes within the holster, and also you want them within the spring.

The Chicago Bulls had overwhelmed the Brooklyn Nets twice this season, with each groups at various levels of energy. However that was earlier than the Bulls had develop into the discuss of the NBA, the recent new factor, earlier than they’d actually helped themselves to a seat on the prime of the Japanese Convention. There was a a lot heavier buzz in regards to the Bulls final evening — because of Demar DeRozan’s back-to-back buzzer-beaters, a successful streak, the market, ESPN, the 9 pm begin regionally — than after they’d performed the Nets earlier than.

So it was secure to say that the Bulls had the Nets’ full consideration. That obtained them a 138-112 beatdown that wasn’t that shut.

Whereas the Bulls are nonetheless beat up — they didn’t have Alex Caruso or Javonte Inexperienced or Patrick Williams and misplaced Derrick Jones Jr. 30 seconds in — this was as thorough of a tonking as it could get. There was no clearer signal of the Nets unveiling all they are often than watching two of them dive on the ground for a free ball whereas they had been up 30. Or the best way the bench reacted within the third quarter because the Nets laid it throughout the Bulls’ brow to the tune of 39-19. You need to run within the penthouse? That is the toll.

The issue for the Bulls, and actually anybody else within the East, is that at full energy, the Nets will nonetheless have the three greatest gamers on the courtroom. In Milwaukee’s case, they will declare one of many three greatest, nevertheless it’s nonetheless one. They wanted the opposite two to get harm to beat the Nets final yr. No, the Nets haven’t gained something but collectively, however they’ve individually, they usually confirmed the Bulls what pedigree seems like over 48 minutes. They blanketed Demar DeRozan on each possession and dared anybody else to beat them. Nobody was up for it. In the meantime, the Nets have Kevin Durant, who some nights may solely be guarded by a Klingon. The Bulls don’t have a Klingon.

Whereas there are nights in an NBA season the place a group simply isn’t there, there are different nights the place they very a lot are. The place every little thing comes collectively — nationwide TV sport, the group with all the warmth, having to catch them within the standings — and also you see what it could appear to be. The Bulls positively witnessed the energy of road data final evening.

There are not any “message” video games. It’s a enjoyable narrative, however that’s not how issues work. A playoff sequence has utterly totally different parameters. What the Bulls know now clearly, and the Nets knew earlier than, is simply how tough it is going to be.


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