The Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah is hoping to play in their Game 6 matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, he told BullsTV on Tuesday. The 6'11" center injured his ankle in Game 3, and has been out since.
"I'm feeling better," Noah told BullsTV in his first interview since the injury. "I'm just trying to get out there for the next game." Game 6 is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 10.
Noah was shown shooting free throws without his air cast prior to Game 5, but he sat out in the Bulls' 77-69 victory in Philadelphia on Tuesday. If the Bulls win Thursday, the series will return to Chicago for a Game 7 showdown.
Noah, one of the Bulls' biggest contributors on defense, could be the key to the Bulls' comeback. He leads the Bulls in rebounds per game at 9.3, slightly ahead of Carlos Boozer, who is averaging 9.2 RPG. Noah is also tied with Derrick Rose for most offensive rebounds with 3.0.
In the 2012 postseason, Noah was averaging 15.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG, He had 12 points and seven rebounds when he left Game 3 with what was described as an ankle sprain.
Perhaps Noah's most important contribution cannot be measured in stats. His energy, team play and mental approach are huge contributions to the team.
With Derrick Rose as the team's other biggest leader, Noah provides a great balance to Rose's stoic, often silent leadership. Unfortunately, the Bulls have lost Rose for the remainder of the playoffs due to injury.
Luckily for the Bulls, they have one of the deepest benches in the league. Players like John Lucas III, Omer Asik and CJ Watson often step up for the team when needed, and the Bulls will also need their bench to step up now more than ever.