EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - A strained right calf didn't stop Andray Blatche from giving the Nets quality, crucial fourth-quarter minutes in Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls and the reserve big man does not expect to be hindered much when the Nets head to the United Center for a do-or-die Game 6 on Thursday evening.
"I can go as much as he give me," Blatche said on Wednesday afternoon after practice in reference to Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. "Whatever he give me, I'm gonna go out there and play hard. I'm already expecting this thing to be like 90 percent, so I should be ready to play tomorrow."
Blatche indicated the plan was to receive treatment upon the team's arrival in Chicago, then more treatment when he wakes up Thursday morning. At practice on Wednesday, Blatche had a sleeve on the right calf, but appeared to be moving well.
Blatche played all but the final 54 seconds of the fourth quarter of Game 5, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting while giving the Bulls typically-staunch defense something to think about down the stretch.
Carlesimo tried to get him out of the game twice inside the final 3:00 in favor of Reggie Evans, but Blatche indicated he wanted to keep playing despite the calf. Since Blatche was playing well throughout the fourth quarter, Carlesimo had no real reason to pull him."I went to the hole, I came down and I felt it," Blatche said of the injury. "It was there, I thought it was a cramp and I tried to play through it, but it wasn't. At the time, my adrenaline was going and I was really focused on getting the win and helping my teammates out, so that's why I said I was good (when Carlesimo tried to substitute."
As was the case during the regular season, Blatche has been pretty solid in limited minutes, averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 19.8 minutes of action over the first five games of this series.
Much has been made over the Blatch-Brook Lopez combination on the floor. It's a bit of a rarity, but it has worked wonders. The two have been on the floor together in this series for a total of 36 minutes, 16 of which have come in the fourth quarter. In those 36 minutes, the Nets have outscored the Bulls, 91-53.
On the defensive end, Blatche did a nice job defensively in Game 5 on Carlos Boozer, helping to hold the perennial double-double threat to to one rebound and zero shot attempts in 9:22 of action in the fourth quarter. Boozer has killed the Nets in nine games this season between the regular season and postseason. In this series, he is averaging 18.2 points and 10.8 rebounds.
"He's a smart offensive player, he creates a lot of space," Blatche said. "The main thing with him is to just crowd him and try and stay as tight as possible with him."
"We are the better team. Like I said, we're in a hole and we're swinging to get out. We're gonna continue to fight. We're very desperate, we can't lose. From that standpoint, guys are fighting. You gotta go hard or go home. "
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA