Joakim Noah Injury: Bulls Star's Ankle Will Doom Chicago's Playoff Hopes

Nick HartCorrespondent IMay 8, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 06: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls reacts during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 6, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers won 89-82 to go up 3-1 in the series. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Joakim Noah is likely out for Game 5 between the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers, and his absence will doom Chicago's playoff hopes.  Noah severely sprained his ankle in the third quarter of Game 3 against the 76ers and sat during the Game 4 loss for the Bulls. Losing Noah, a tremendous defender and rebounder, severely hampers the Bulls.

Without Noah in the lineup for Game 4 against the 76ers, Spencer Hawes went off scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds.  Omer Asik, the only other Bulls player with the size to match up with Hawes was incredibly ineffective.  Hawes made seven of his first eight shots and essentially scored on will against Asik early in the game which forced the Bulls to provide help and allowed Philadelphia's guards to get hot in the fourth quarter.  

The loss of Noah proved disastrous on the boards as well with Philadelphia earning 15 second chance points in the first half allowing them to jump out to a 10 point lead.  Additionally, Philadelphia was able to score 30 points in the paint. With Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner struggling throughout the first half, this boost proved to be all the 76ers needed to hold on to win.  

Most of the 76ers players struggled in Game 4 and Philadelphia still got the win. In Game 5, Hawes is sure to continue his impressive play, and Holiday and Turner will be able to drive to the lane at will without Noah's shot-blocking presence.  Lou Williams will also reap the rewards, and a blowout win by Philadelphia should be expected.

The loss of Joakim Noah will doom Chicago's chances against the Philadelphia 76ers.  His defensive presence and his work on the glass will be sorely missed, as Philadelphia capitalizes on Chicago's hole in the middle to win Game 5 and finish the series.