A day before addressing the crowd prior to Game 1, Nets owner Mikhail Prokohorov went on Bloomberg television and, during an interview in Moscow, talked about what his team needed to win a title.
“One more good player, and we need time to make a really strong team,” Prokhorov said. “If we have a great team spirit, great passion, we can beat anyone in the league. We are not underdogs, that’s for sure.”
It will be somewhat of a challenge as the team is well above the salary cap after last year’s summer spending spree cost them $330 million, but in keeping with his good-natured personality interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo addressed the topic with a light-hearted sentiment.
“That is an astute statement,” Carlesimo said. “Having said that, I love the 15 players that we have, and next year — [NBA public relations man] Tim [Frank] is it all right to go with that? — the NBA is expanding to 16, so it won’t impact any of the guys currently on the roster. So Mikhail’s right and I love all of our players now.”
Carlesimo desires improved defense
The Nets could not have not played much better than they did in Game 1 but in the critical mind of an NBA head coach, there is always something that can improve.
For Carlesimo, that something is defense. The Nets won by 17 but gave up 54 points after halftime as Chicago shot 60 percent and turned it over just three times in the final 24 minutes.
The Nets held the Bulls to 35 points and 36.6 percent shooting (15-of-41) in the opening 24 minutes.
“It’s never a challenge for coaches to find things to be critical of or too work on,” Carlesimo said. “So we spent time and more important Rio [assistant coach Mario Ellie] and Popeye [assistant coach Popeye Jones] and Patrick [assistant coach Patrick Spurgin] and Dougie [assistant coach Doug Overton] broke it down. We had a lot of things that we can do better but if we can take care of the ball the way we did the other night and if we can shoot it the way we did the other night, that take cures a lot of other execution mistakes and things we didn’t do well.”
Thibodeau looks to Hamilton
Richard Hamilton played just 80 minutes after Feb. 28 due to a back injury and struggled to regain his rhythm in limited action.
The same thing afflicted Hamilton in Game 1 as he took just two shots and saw just over seven minutes.
“A big part of his game is timing, rhythm, catch and shoot,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We just have to be patient. Hopefully as time goes on, he gets healthy.”
Thibodeau no stranger to serious injuries
Thibodeau was an assistant in Houston when Yao Ming was frequently hurt. He was also in Boston when Kevin Garnett suffered a serious injury right after the All-Star break.
And if those two and the current Derrick Rose knee situation is not enough experience in this department, Thibodeau also was an assistant in New York in 1997-98 when the Knicks won 43 games despite not having Patrick Ewing for the final 66 games after he broke his wrist in a game at Milwaukee on Dec. 21, 1997.
Rose continued his usual routine in pregame warm-ups of shooting from various spots on the court but did not suit up.
“That experience taught me it’s the right thing to do,” Thibodeau said. “If Derrick can come back, we want him back.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.