EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – If Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is defined as being coy with the media, then Joakim Noah is a complete polar opposite.
With that said, if the 6-foot-11 Defensive Player of the Year candidate comes out and says he is concerned about the plantar fasciitis in his right foot limiting him or even keeping him out as the Bulls get set to take on the Nets in the first round of the playoffs beginning Saturday night in Brooklyn, it’s worth paying attention to.
“I mean, I’ve got a tear in my foot, I’ve got a tear in my foot,” Noah told reporters in Chicago on Friday afternoon after practice at the Berto Center. “It is what it is. I’m upset at myself because I let this linger for a long time and I have no one to blame but myself. I just wish I was a little bit smarter. I played games in the regular season that I probably shouldn’t have played, and it’s going to be tough, but these are the cards I was dealt.”
Noah missed 12 of 13 games during a stretch that began March 23 and ended April 14. He played in the Bulls’ final two regular season games, but was limited, playing 14 minutes in each and scoring only six total points. In the season finale on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, he took just one shot and scored zero points.
Even if Noah can play, Nazr Mohammad appears to be a safe bet to get the start in his place. When healthy, Noah had a career year, averaging 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 66 regular season games.
Meanwhile, back at PNY Center on Friday afternoon, Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo maintained his stance from Thursday’s post-practice session with the media. His team has been and will continue to prepare for anything and everything that could potentially be thrown its way.
“It doesn’t change our preparation,” Carlesimo said. “We’re gonna prepare for Joakim and Booze (Carlos Boozer), because if they’re both healthy, they will play. I would think Luol (Deng), if he’s healthy, he’ll play big minutes. You have to prepare for all the people, but they’re gonna run a lot of the same plays, they’re gonna defend the same way, it’s just gonna be different personnel. It probably means we’re gonna have to get ready for more people than we normally would in getting ready for Chicago.”
Players not expecting Derrick Rose
Whether or not he really believes Derrick Rose will play for the first time this season, Carlesimo has put on a public front that his team will prepare for the seemingly-unlikely event that he does in fact play.
As for at least two of his players, it appears they don’t seem to think the 2011 NBA MVP will be suiting up, at least in Game 1.
“He’s not playing the first game, so we’re preparing for Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich,” Deron Williams stated bluntly.
“He’s out for the first game, so unless he comes back after that, I don’t think we have to worry about it,” C.J. Watson added. “Would I be surprised (if Rose came back)? No. You never know, though, so who knows.”
Rose has been out since May 9 of last season when he tore his left ACL in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series. Given a timetable of 8-12 months, he was cleared for full contact at practice in late January and cleared for games on March 9, but has yet to play.
As has been much of this season with Rose out, Hinrich will get the start at the point. The former Kansas University star has been solid, averaging 7.7 points and 5.2 assists against just 1.7 turnovers in 29.4 minutes per game.
The Bulls went 38-22 in games Hinrich started against just 7-15 in games he did not start.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA