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Joakim Noah put in starting lineup, then out of the game, within minutes

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Strange day for Joakim Noah as the Bulls prepared to play the 76ers:

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah sat out Monday night's 111-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers because of left knee soreness.

The absence came as a surprise, given that Noah was initially listed in the starting lineup. It would have been his first start of the season, but he decided not to play minutes before tipoff.

"You don't plan on these things," Noah said. "I wasn't expecting it. I've been feeling great up to this point, and it just happened. I don't think it's [anything] too serious, but it was definitely a situation where I had to be smart. I wanted to play tonight really bad."

Though Fred Hoiberg said during shootaround on Monday that there were no lineup changes, his plan was to start Noah for Nikola Mirotic. Bringing back the Gasol-Noah frontcourt is a polarizing decision, but given Mirotic's play lately (though he hopefully shot himself out of the slump in the Bulls win) and Hoiberg's confessed reasoning of wanting more 1st quarter defense it has some logic behind it.

Also logical, and a welcome change, is that Noah sat out this game in the first place. The Sixers are a complete joke (and were missing two of their few should-be-in-the-league players), so it was the perfect night for strategic rest. And after starting this season with a fairly heavy workload (7 games in 11 days, and remember Noah had a knee contusion in the opener though that was the right knee), the Bulls now don't play again until Friday.

Also of note in the strategic rest front was that since it was a blowout win, the Bulls starters barely played in the 4th quarter, with Rose and Butler out entirely. Instead of pure #minuteswatch, this is the kind of playing time decision that Hoiberg got right, whereas Thibs may have not seen the 14-point lead entering the 4th (that swelled to over 20+) against a minor-league team as comfortable enough.