If the world worked perfectly for the Chicago Bulls, they wouldn't have to play Joakim Noah much against the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs this year.
But the world apparently doesn't work perfectly for the Bulls. Derrick Rose still isn't back on the floor after his freak injury in the playoffs last year and Noah has been reduced to hobbling around the court with a foot injury.
With Rose being held out of Game 2 against the Nets, the Bulls have no choice but to trot Noah out on the hardwood to do as much as he can against Nets center Brook Lopez.
After playing 13 minutes against the Nets on Saturday, Noah said he'll play again versus the Nets in Game 2 on Monday, according to Bulls beat writer Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com:
Nick Friedell @NickFriedell
Noah says he's feeling all right. He'll be out there4/22/2013, 1:59:33 PM
The Record's Andy Vasquez also reported Noah would be on a "minutes limit", per coach Tom Thibodeau:
Andy Vasquez @andy_vasquez
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says Joakim Noah (foot) will be on a minutes limit tonight: between 20-25. Noah will start.4/22/2013, 10:49:58 PM
However, as Rotoworld.com notes, it's not practical to expect Noah to be out on the floor for more than 20 minutes, as much as the Bulls want to push him. The best Noah can do is make as much of an impact as possible against Lopez in his limited time on the floor.
And Lopez is the reason why the Bulls need to play Noah as much as he can handle. With Noah playing 13 minutes on Saturday, Lopez still was able to rack up 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Imagine what the 25-year-old would have done with Noah out of the game completely.
Lopez has never been a good rebounder for his size, but he's one of the best low-post scorers in the league. That's what makes Noah—one of the best low-post defenders in the league—so important for Chicago in this series.
So, when they allow Brooklyn to shoot 56 percent from the floor—while forcing only eight turnovers—it doesn't take a genius to predict what the outcome will be.
Among centers who played at least 2,000 minutes this season, Noah ranked fifth in both defensive rating and defensive win shares, per Basketball-Reference.com. His post defense is undeniably important to Chicago's success.
The Bulls can only hope that Noah recovers quickly from his injury. Otherwise, "The Brook Lopez Show" is going to roll over Chicago's postseason aspirations.