C.J. Watson doesn’t exactly wear his emotions on his sleeve. In fact, before the Nets opened their first round series against the Bulls with an emphatic 106-89 victory Saturday night in Brooklyn, interim coach P.J. Carlesimo admitted that he finds Watson hard to read.
But it wasn’t hard to read the emotions running through Watson’s veins when he hit a 3-pointer halfway through the second quarter to give the Nets a 46-26 lead and demonstrably celebrated as he went back on defense.
“It was just a big game … the intensity turns up a notch in the playoffs, and I want to win,” Watson said before the Nets practiced on Sunday. “I want to win bad. It is what it is.”
Watson has said repeatedly – and did so again Sunday – that he holds no ill will towards the Bulls after they waived him last July instead of paying him the non-guaranteed $3.2 million he was set to earn in the final year of his original contract with the Bulls.
Instead, Watson hit free agency, where the Nets quickly scooped him up after getting recruiting phone calls from both Deron Williams and then-coach Avery Johnson once he officially cleared waivers.
But after watching Watson all season long and hardly ever seeing him demonstrate any kind of emotion in any setting, seeing him so fired up during Saturday’s game made it seem pretty obvious that playing against the Bulls means more than a regular playoff series would.
“We want more of [that] for sure,” Carlesimo said with a smile Sunday. “You know he wants to play well against them but there’s a real familiarity there both ways. Sometimes that’s not an easy thing to do. WE’ve seen that with Joe [Johnson] and Atlanta [this season].
“You can’t overstate how well he played [Saturday] and how important that is for us going forward. If he can give us, doesn’t have to be quite as spectacular, but we really need C.J. to be productive. It makes a big difference for us.”