For the Nets to win, Kris Humphries must show up — literally

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklynites are spoiled — one year and already a playoff berth.

In the first season in the Barclays Center, the recently suffering Nets franchise is headed back to the postseason for the first time since 2007, this time with a fourth-seed that guarantees home-court advantage for the first round against Chicago.

The Nets and Bulls played four extremely tight contests this year, with the guys in red taking three of four despite being shorthanded in most of them. It’s bound to be a donnybrook.

Key matchup: Everyone on the Nets vs. Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng

In Brooklyn’s lone win over the Bulls this season, both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were absent from Chicago’s lineup. Chicago is battled tested, having fought through injuries all season long. But, with the exception of All-Star guard Derrick Rose, the team appears to be fully healthy heading into their first round. Noah, Boozer, Taj Gibson, and the versatile Luol Deng pose matchup problems galore for most NBA front courts, not to mention the heavy-footed Nets. The Nets will need to take a defense-by-committee approach if they want to shutdown the prolific Bulls’ front court.

X-Factor: Kris Humphries

That’s right, Kris Humphries. Throughout most of the season, Hump has been more of a non-factor than an X-factor. But he will need to provide valuable minutes off the bench to stop Noah and Boozer. P.J. “Peej” Carlesimo must throw active, rested bodies at the Bulls’ front court to slow them down. Humphries won’t be asked to carry the offensive or defensive load, but he will be asked to miss his civil trial divorce hearing in California on May 6 if he wants to help his team win.

Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.

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