For whatever reason, the Bulls actually had a hard time against the Nets last season. They were the only team in the NBA who lost the season series to the Nets. As such, the Bulls shouldn't take the Nets lightly (not that they should take anyone lightly).
I'd hope that a little revenge factor motivates them, and Tom Thibodeau's preparation seems to stop them from losing these types of games.
Keys to the game
Kurt Thomas can mug up Brook Lopez just like he mugged up Andrew Bogut
Thomas's physical play really bothered Bogut on the court, and he can do the same to Brook Lopez. The Nets are in the midst of another rough season where all the joy is already sucked out of it. Play physically against Lopez and see if he really has the stomach for it, especially if his team falls into a big deficit.
Carlos Boozer needs to key the offense
The Bulls struggled getting anything done inside against the Nets last season. That should change with Carlos Boozer on the team. His inside presence should be the difference between this season and last season.
Derrick Rose can dominate again
Rose crushed the Nets in two of the three games last season, unfortunately, the Nets won both the games Rose played well in. However, that has little to do with Rose, and more to do with lack of support, poor defense, and a random scrub lighting the Bulls up.
Rose should get whatever he wants against New Jersey to help pace the Bulls.
Luol Deng needs to step up as that third option
Deng's role has changed with the emergence of Boozer. He still
needs to defend and cut, but he no longer carries the burden of the
second option offensively. That's a great thing for the team offense,
as Deng doesn't create his own shot well, but he's struggled as a third
option as well up until last game.
Deng needs to get on a role and start playing higher efficiency
basketball. A big part of his mini-slump has been poor three point
shooting. Earlier in the season, Deng was firing without hesitation and
launching threes with confidence. In his slump, he's visibly less
comfortable shooting the three, double clutches, and doesn't always
shoot in rhythm.
Deng's played considerably better at home, so expect him to play well tonight.
Play team defense
Ultimately, the lack of team defense caused the two losses last season. Lopez played well, but the Bulls weren't losing because of him, they were losing because they gave up 25 to Terrence Williams in one game and 20 to Chris Douglas Roberts in another.
The Bulls can't allow role players to absolutely dominate them.
The Bulls should defeat the Nets, but they should have defeated them last year and managed to lose twice, so nothing is certain. The mojo around this team is different though, and they seem far less likely to lose games like this.
Tom Thibodeau keeps the guys focused on every game, and there are far fewer slips than there were under Del Negro.