Playoff drama increases with Noah


Apr 20

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The Bulls, obviously, are hoping it doesn’t become a Shakespearean tragedy. But the elements are there as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before Saturday’s playoff Game 1 in Brooklyn that Joakim Noah not only could play, but that he may start.

“We’re going to let him warm up and if he feels OK, he’s going to go,” Thibodeau said in something of a surprise after all the negative talk about Noah’s plantar fasciitis condition after practice Friday.

Asked if Noah will start, Thibodeau replied: “He could.”

“There will be some restrictions on him,” Thibodeau said. “As we explained the past couple games, he hasn’t had a problem playing nor after the game. It’s more the next day where the soreness comes into play. He was really disappointed yesterday. He said he felt a little better yesterday, but not much. So that was a big concern. He said he felt a lot better today. So he wanted to go through the shoot around. He did that, felt fine after and said he wanted to give it a go. Then he had to be cleared by our trainer and doctor.”

Joakim Noah

Of course, the question then is at what price? Shakespeare wrote of noble and likeable but flawed characters. Is Noah’s desire to play back home in New York in the playoffs for the first time outweighing his reason? Could he worsen his condition and be out a longer period? Or will this help and, obviously, the team needs him against All-Star center Brook Lopez.

Yes, to play or not to play. That is the question. Is it nobler of the body to suffer or take the slings and arrows of outrageous caution?

“The thing is it’s the type of injury where you don’t know how he’s going to feel the next day,” said Thibodeau. “It’s unusual. Some guys completely tear it and feel better right away. Some guys completely tear it and they have to shut it down. He’s had it before. He’s dealt with it. We just have to see how he is tomorrow.”

And, of course, Saturday night live.

Thibodeau also indicated it’s likely Derrick Rose will be on the bench more during this series. Thibodeau said previously he had asked Rose and other players not to be on the bench during games as it could prove a distraction to the other players given so many players were hurt. But Thibodeau said now with everyone but Rose back that could change.

As for Rose, earlier at team shootaround, Thibodeau acknowledged Rose is “most likely out” for the playoffs. But Thibodeau again refused to say Rose would definitely not play given he could get over a final hurdle to playing at some point. Rose has told the team he still doesn’t feel quite right after his reconstructive knee surgery last April.

“I guess there’s always a chance (Rose could play),” Thibodeau reiterated before the game. “He has worked extremely hard. And he wants to be out there very badly. I know I’ve said it often that he’s close and he is. But he can’t quite make that final step. Until he can do that, we have to remain patient. As I mentioned this morning, it’s unlikely that he’ll play. But the way the playoffs are structured, a week from now maybe he makes that final step. I never want to rule that out. But nothing has really changed.

“From the start of the season, because of when the injury occurred, we knew he would be out for a good chunk of the season and we knew it would be a long process,” said Thibodeau. “So we went into camp with the understanding that Derrick would handle his rehab and focus on that. “And then the team would focus on daily improvement and their next opponent and hopefully at some point, he would rejoin us. Now, he’s practiced with us and he’s doing everything at practice for quite a while now, since really January, so he’s been around the team. It hasn’t been an issue; it hasn’t been a distraction. We understood going into the season what we were going to have to deal with and we knew going in that no one player was going to replace Derrick and our only chance was to do it collectively, and for the most part, our team’s done a great job with that.

“His game is very unique and the people who are around him every day, you know, his explosion, speed, quickness, change of direction, so many different things and he has to be able to do that,” said Thibodeau. “He has to be able to cut freely and until he’s real comfortable with that final step we have to be very careful about putting him out there. And so we’ve waited this long and if it means we have to wait another week, two weeks, until next year, so be it. I just think we have to remain patient

“There’s two schools of thought on (Rose sitting on the bench),” said Thibodeau. “He was doing a lot of rehab work before and we had so many guys that were hurt, I actually didn’t want them all on the bench. I just thought it was more important for our guys to be focused on the guys that we had, so that part was really me. Now that we’ve gotten guys healthy, he may be out there more.”

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