Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, is “most likely out” for Game 5 on Tuesday night because of a sprained left ankle, according to head coach Tom Thibodeau. In other words, he is out. Not sure why Thibodeau does that to the media, but we all know what “most likely out” means by now. I’m impressed that Noah is even around walking, yet alone ready to play do or die, up and down the floor basketball. This is not where the Chicago Bulls planned to be at this point. The plan was to be hanging at the Berto Center, Derrick Rose and his ACL intact, and the Philadelphia 76ers already back home booking summer trips. Bulls should be drawing up plans to expose Coach Thibodeau’s former team, the Boston Celtics, not fighting for their lives in Game 5 of the first round against the 8 seed.
We all remember 2009, right? Ben Gordon was still in the Windy City, and Derrick Rose was just starting to blossom. A first round match-up that went 7 games and became one of the most exciting and prolific series in NBA history? Overtime games, heated disputes between Kirk Hinrich and Rajon Rando? C’mon now, everybody remembers that series.Well, about a month ago, I was REALLY looking forward to that type of series. And as a REAL NBA fan, can you actually disagree with me. Do you really want to see Rondo and Paul Pierce battle Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Lou Williams? I’m not knocking any of those players, but let’s be for real. It’s not appealing. It’s not going to be that 2009 thriller I was anticipating for the last month between two great teams like the Celtics and Bulls. This isn’t what the game of basketball needed, but unfortunately, due to injuries and mental and physical wear on the Bulls, they are on verge of elimination and that’s the reality….and it’s a harsh reality.
The Bulls and the city of Chicago’s run of bad sports luck continues to just snowball. Jay Cutler, check. Marian Hossa, check. Derrick Rose, check. Joakim Noah, check. And now, Vice President for the Bulls and former player, John Paxson, check. It was “leaked” by Sixers Coach Doug Collins when he sent him “well-wishes” after his team’s game 4 win. “I want to send my prayers out to John Paxson,” Collins said. “(He) had a little bit of a heart surgery; he’s not going to be able to be at Games 4 and 5. He’s like a son to me.” Paxson didn’t want anyone to know. “I have an arrhythmia issue I’m trying to get corrected,” Paxson said in a statement released by the Bulls on Sunday. “It is something I’ve had before and planned this procedure over one month ago. Nothing more to it than that and had not intended for it to be made public.” Being like a son to him, you think Doug would have got the memo, no? It’s also reported that NBA great and former Sixer , Julius Erving, better known as “Dr. J”, had some fun at the expense of the Chicago Bulls recent misery. He walked by their locker room door and was heard saying, “3-1 baby, just one more game.”
Either way, that’s the reality. The Chicago Bulls are an extinguished franchise this season, the flame has been blown out. The championship window, which was wide open at one point, is now closed. When Rose tore his ACL it slammed shut, and then the window LOCKED when Noah rolled his ankle. Even if they somehow rally the troops and won this series, would it really be worth it? What would the reward be for the Bulls in this situation to advance to play the Celtics? Get embarrassed another 5 or 6 games against a seasoned team, and to watch Luol Deng grimace every jump shot? Are we going to have to grimace every time C.J. Watson takes a jump shot? How much longer do we have to watch Carlos Boozer and his $60 million dollars really get earned by Taj Gibson? I’m sure the Bulls will fight tonight in front of the home crowd, it’s a team filled with pride. However, pride does not win you playoff basketball games, talent does. Coach Thibodeau and his “we have enough to win” talk is not reality. From a fans take, I hope the series gets stretched another game because Round 2 in the East will be moderate at best, in terms of entertainment. For now though, the West Side of Chicago can take a page out of the North side of towns motto: “There is always NEXT YEAR.”
**** UPDATE: Reporters around the league and Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau are saying Noah is a “game-time decision.” I’m going to continue to call him OUT. Yes, he did shoot free throws and did some foot work at shoot around today, but the fact is, he’s still limping. Playing Noah will only hurt the Bulls in this situation and Omer Asik has already been named the starter for tonight. Game 6 would be more realistic for Noah in my opinion. ****
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