Joakim Noah injury: Bulls center appears doubtful to play soon

USA TODAY Sports

Joakim Noah's foot injury could keep him from playing many minutes in the Chicago Bulls' first-round series after it seemed like he'd be good to go.

Joakim Noah says that his foot injury is worse than had previously been let on, and that he might not be able to play in the first few games of the Chicago Bulls' playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets due to lingering pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

Noah had missed 12 of 13 games with the injury down the stretch, but made the decision to play about 15 minutes apiece in the team's final two games, games they didn't particularly need.

The good news for the Bulls is that Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, and Rip Hamilton are expected to play in the series after various injuries down the stretch.

But the good news ends there. The Bulls are going to have to play extremely shorthanded in the frontcourt. Their starting center will be Nazr Mohammed simply because there's nobody else, and although the 35-year-old has tons of playoff experience, an NBA title with the Spurs, and managed a pair of double-doubles towards the end of the season, he spent most of the year relegated to extreme bench minutes and shooting in the area of 25 percent from the field when actually in the lineup. And there isn't any depth behind Carlos Boozer and Gibson -- Malcolm Thomas, signed in March, is not eligible for the playoffs having been on the Golden State Warriors roster after March 1. Even Vladimir Radmanovic, who could potentially provide minutes as a stretch power forward, is injured.

It'll be small ball for Chicago if they hope to get early wins against the Nets. That didn't bother the Bulls a lot as they won some decent games -- Miami and New York, notably -- with heavy doses of three-guard lineups, but everything would be so much easier if they could count on Noah. They're a squad that depends on stifling interior defense, and he's one of the best in the league at providing it. It doesn't bode well for a match-up against Brook Lopez and a rebounding bully in Reggie Evans.

On the plus side, this distracts everybody from the Derrick Rose thing, right?

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