Bulls vs. Nets playoffs: Joakim Noah not looking healthy for first round

Jonathan Daniel

"I just got to take it slow and right now there is no time to take it slow"

[UPDATE2 by your friendly BullsBlogger, 04/19/13 1:00 PM CDT: Word from practice Friday isn't good. Noah sounds like he'll be extremely limited at best. Thibs (I know...) says Jo is still experiencing soreness and there's a chance he doesn't play tomorrow. He also wouldn't speculate on Noah missing the series, though wouldn't rule it out either. 'Day to day', basically. ]

[UPDATE by your friendly BullsBlogger, 04/18/13 8:08 PM CDT: Thibs makes it a 'possibility parade' today, saying it's possible Noah doesn't play at all. Thibs lies, but still: yikes. ]

Sort of lost in the euphoria of avoiding a horrible Bulls-Pacers playoff series and getting the Nets instead is that Joakim Noah is still obviously battling injury. He had a really poor showing in the regular season finale Wednesday, and more importantly simply looked bad.

He doesn't help fan optimism with his post-game words, either:

Noah summed up his performance succinctly late Wednesday night after the Bulls 95-92 win over the Washington Wizards: "I felt very rusty."

Even he isn't sure if he will be able to play at his usual high level throughout the playoffs because of the pain.

"Only time will tell," he said as he iced his foot in a big bucket in front of his locker. "But I'm going to give it everything I got. All I want is to go out there, give everything I got for the team and play at a high level."

Noah said he and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau haven't even discussed if he will enter the postseason on a minutes limit. For now, he's just focused on doing everything he can to make his foot feel better -- having already received a cortisone shot in it last week.

"Just doing all my treatments," he said. "When the game is over just keep my foot up, rest. It's a tough situation. It sucks to be not at 100 percent but I'm going to give everything I got every night for the team and it's what it's all about."

...

As Noah shuffled up and down the floor, it was clear that he still doesn't feel like himself.

"I just got to take it slow and right now there is no time to take it slow," Noah said. "But these three days will be crucial to get as much treatment as possible and get ready for a tough series."

Man, that is tough to read, especially knowing how much Joakim relishes the playoff spotlight.

Noah's injury is among several factors that have the whole starting lineup in flux right now. Knowing Thibodeau, I doubt we'll see any resolution on that until right before gametime Saturday. If Noah is still on a minutes limit, I could see Thibs preferring using him off the bench, to get one stint per half.

As much as the Nets are frauds, having Noah limited will hardly have the Bulls at their full (Rose-less) capabilities either. The Bulls have gone through that in their regular season series against Brooklyn, but it'll take it's toll on the Bulls chances over the course of an entire playoff round.

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