Noah working to maintain his conditioning while sidelined


Jan 4

The last time the Bulls faced the Raptors, Joakim Noah suited up and took to the court armed with the knowledge he’d undergo surgery to repair a torn ulna collateral ligament in his right thumb the next morning.

Playing through the pain on Dec. 15 in Toronto was nothing new at that point for Noah, who originally suffered the injury on Nov. 27 in Sacramento. So it should not have come as a surprise when he turned in another gritty effort, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes of action in the Bulls’ 110-93 win.

As the Bulls and Raptors meet again, approximately two and a half weeks after the surgery, Noah still has a long road ahead before his return. While team doctors estimate Noah will be sidelined a total of eight to ten weeks, Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said Noah is doing what he can to stay in shape.

“He can stretch, he can run on the treadmill, and he can lift with his lower body. It’s mainly all conditioning stuff,” said Thibodeau prior to Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

“I see it,” added Thibodeau. “While we’re practicing, he’s working with our strength and conditioning people. He’ll work out twice today—on a gameday, he’ll be down early and he’ll be in back in the weight room working out.”

Though Noah will not travel with the team this week or in the short-term, the fact that he’s able to stay in shape—much like Carlos Boozer did when he was sidelined with a broken right hand—is a positive.

After missing the first 15 games of the season, Boozer has now played in the last 16, posting 11 games with 20 or more points (including three games with 30 or more points) and 10 games with 10 or more boards.

Since Boozer’s return, the Bulls have gone 12-4. Similarly, there is hope that Noah will be ready to step right back into his role, ideally for a team at full strength when it matters most.

Until then, veteran center Kurt Thomas has more than fulfilled his role, averaging 5.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game in seven starts this season.

“He was brought in for the reason that he’s playing right now,” said Thibodeau. “If you had an injury, you knew you could count on him. He would stay ready. He was an insurance policy.”

Toronto gets Bargnani back

Raptors coach Jay Triano confirmed prior to Tuesday’s game that center Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf) would start against the Bulls and play shorter stints. Point guard Jose Calderon (foot), took to the United Center floor to warm up, but Triano said he was doubtful to go after not making it through the team’s morning shootaround. Triano added that Jerryd Bayless would start in Calderon’s place.

Bulls vs. Raptors season notes

Toronto has won the season series against Chicago the last three years, going 7-4 against Chicago during that time (prior to those 11 games, Chicago won 15 in a row over the Raptors) … Chicago has not won the season series with the Raptors since the 2005-06 season, when the Bulls went 4-0 against Toronto … Chicago is 15-12 against the Raptors at the United Center and 15-15 against them at the Air Canada Centre … Toronto has claimed the season series versus the Bulls the last two years (2007-08: 2-1, 2008-09: 3-1) … in three games versus the Raptors last season, Derrick Rose averaged 16.3 ppg and 6.0 apg in 33.0 mpg and shot .457 from the field; Andrea Bargnani posted 14.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.00 bpg and 35.0 mpg … the Bulls are 2-2 in overtime games against Toronto, most recently dropping a 134-129 decision at Toronto last March.

Audio—Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (01.04.11):

Audio—Raptors Coach Jay Triano’s pregame comments (01.04.11):

What do you think? Leave a comment below: