Just one day after a dejected Joakim Noah made it seem like he might not even see the court during the Chicago Bulls' first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the center is going to give it a go in Game 1:
Noah just confirmed he's going to try to play vs. Nets.— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 20, 2013
It looks like the Bulls will have the services of their emotional leader and defensive anchor after all.
A nasty case of plantar fasciitis caused Noah to miss 12 of Chicago's last 15 games. And if recent reports count for anything, he's still suffering to a pretty significant degree:
RT @nickfriedell: Bulls' Joakim Noah says he had a setback. His foot is killing him. Sounds very doubtful for tomorrow and next few days— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 19, 2013
The Bulls need Noah badly, especially against bruising Nets big man Brook Lopez. If he is unable to last in his trial effort during Game 1, Chicago will be stuck with a pair of bad options: It can either go small and give away the glass to Lopez, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries, or it can shake the dust off of Nazr Mohammed for extended minutes.
Neither of those sound particularly appealing to Bulls fans.
Forget Derrick Rose for a second. If the Bulls don't have a healthy Joakim Noah to start the Playoffs, they're in big trouble.— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) April 19, 2013
On the year, Noah improved Chicago's defensive efficiency by over five points per 100 possessions. So his presence on the court—even if he's severely limited—represents a big positive for the nicked-up Bulls. And if nothing else, his willingness to gut out an excruciatingly painful injury will serve as inspiration for his teammates.
After all, taking a risk by playing at less than 100 percent is something certain other Bulls players (shoots disappointed look toward Derrick Rose) haven't been keen to do this season.
With Noah, the Bulls have a shot to pull off a minor upset against the Nets. But whatever happens, Noah deserves credit for giving it a shot.