NBA Playoffs: Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 1

Game 1: Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Sat. April 20, 2013 8 p.m. ET

After an entire regular season without superstar Derrick Rose in the lineup, the Chicago Bulls were still able to punch their ticket to the NBA playoffs with Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng picking up the slack for their leader in the backcourt.

Although the Bulls have been able to get back into the postseason without the injured Rose, Chicago has a big hill to climb in the first round of the playoffs going up against hungry Brooklyn Nets squad looking to make an impression in the postseason with Deron Williams leading the way.

Despite uncertainty heading into this season in terms of Las Vegas odds concerning the Nets’ chances of competing in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn has been as advertised this season with their reloaded roster. Although not a legitimate NBA title contender after bringing in Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, the Nets will be a force to be reckoned with and a big challenge for the shorthanded Bulls in the first round.

As of right now, the Nets are favored to pull out the win in Game 1 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a -4 1/2 point spread. The Nets have come on strong as of late while getting healthy and will head into this matchup with a lot of confidence.

There’s no question that at this point in time the Nets are the younger and more talented team in comparison to the Bulls without Rose. Brooklyn may have the clear edge in a few categories, but Chicago definitely has the advantage in terms of playoff experience with savvy veterans ready to impose their will in Game 1.

The key to victory for the Nets will be the play of Williams. With no one on the Bulls capable to containing Williams, the superstar point guard will be able to lead his team to a 1-0 lead over the Bulls.

Prediction: Brooklyn Nets -4 1/2

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