The Nets separated from the Bulls quickly in Game 1 on Saturday, building a 20-point lead in a little more than 20 minutes of action. The rout stayed on through to the end of Brooklyn's 106-89 victory, a convincing performance that even saw Deron Williams elevate for a rare highlight reel slam dunk.
With the Nets leading 87-62 just before the end of the third quarter, Williams stripped Luol Deng clean on a drive, taking off for the races by himself after Nate Robinson stumbled in reaction to the turnover. Free and clear once he entered the paint, Williams opted for a reserve, double-clutch dunk that brought a number of Nets fans to their feet and prompted chants of "Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!" from the Barclays Center crowd.
Williams, who has battled ankle injuries and missed the All-Star Game for the first time since 2009 this season, looked 100 percent healthy from start to finish on the end-to-end play.
"Just showing the guys in the NBA that I might compete in the dunk contest next year," Williams joked afterwards, according to the Bergen Record.
While nobody will be confusing Williams with the Clippers' Eric Bledsoe, this wasn't the ground-bound player we've grown accustomed to. Back in March, Williams admitted to the New York Post that his ankle injuries had severely limited his athleticism before he underwent platelet rich plasma therapy.
“I couldn’t move, I couldn’t stay in front of anybody, I couldn’t beat anybody off the dribble, I couldn’t jump,” said Williams. “If I did find some energy or no pain to do one move, by the time I did [that] it hurt so bad I couldn’t even jump to shoot a layup. It was just painful.”
Williams finished with a team-high 22 points (on nine-for-15 shooting), seven assists and three steals in 35 minutes. Brook Lopez chipped in 21 points and five rebounds for the Nets, while Carlos Boozer finished with a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds in a losing effort for the Bulls.
Brooklyn, the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed, took a 1-0 series lead over Chicago, the No. 5 seed. Game 2 is set for Monday night at Barclays Center. The Bulls will "most likely" finish out the series without Derrick Rose, who continues to rehabilitate from a 2012 knee injury.
Video via YouTube user NBA