Looking to further solidify their hold on the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Brooklyn Nets host the Chicago Bulls Thursday night at Barclays Center.
The Nets had reason to celebrate after their 113-98 road victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday.
Since joining the NBA in 1976 Brooklyn had never earned a winning record on the road, but second-year guard Marshon Brooks's 27 points and seven assists, along with 24 points and eight assists from Deron Williams assured the end of that streak.
It was Brooklyn’s fifth consecutive game without starting two-guard Joe Johnson, who was suffering from a bruised quad muscle. Forward Gerald Wallace also sat out with a sore foot.
Johnson is expected to return to the court against Chicago.
The Nets have gone 3-2 in Johnson’s absence, and Brooks made his first start of the season, notching career-highs in points and assists.
The Bulls sit 2.5 games behind Brooklyn in the No. 6 spot, and have lost two of their last three games since ending the Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak.
On Tuesday, Chicago’s usually stout defense had no answer for Washington Wizard point guard John Wall, who torched the Bulls in a 90-86 loss. It was Chicago’s sixth straight game without leading rebounder and shot blocker Joakim Noah.
Carlos Boozer scored 19 points with 12 rebounds to lead Chicago and four starters in double figures. Guard Nate Robinson came off the bench for 17 points, but shot 1-for-7 from three-point range.
Noah is still dealing with a foot injury, and ESPN Chicago reported he is “unlikely” to play against the Nets.
The game tips-off at 7 p.m. Eastern, and will be broadcast by TNT, or you can watch their free live online stream at TNT Overtime here.
Betting Odds: Brooklyn is favored by 5 points
Over/Under: 188 points
Prediction: With Noah out again, Nets center Brook Lopez should be a force inside. Lopez is the team’s leading scorer, but has been on a tear recently, averaging 21.8 points on 54 percent shooting. Boozer and Luol Deng will once again have to do the heavy lifting, and Chicago also needs better shooting from the outside if it hopes to pull out a win. Look for the Nets to pull away in the third quarter for a win.
Predicted Score: Brooklyn 97, Chicago 90