Not a lot of good news going around for the Chicago Bulls at the moment. With the return of Derrick Rose looming around the corner the Bulls lost three players to injury this week; Kirk Hinrich to an elbow injury, Carlos Boozer to a hamstring injury and finally and most importantly Joakim Noah to plantar fascitis.
We’ve seen plantar fascitis before a month ago when Richard Hamilton went down with it. If Noah is to follow the same path Hamilton did then he will be expected to miss three weeks. That’s how long Hamilton was out and it totaled 12 games he was out for. If Noah is to be out for three weeks the Bulls may find themselves in hot water.
If we look at yesterday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks we will see a few things; minutes and lineups. Four players played 40 minutes or more and because Taj Gibson was in place for Noah we got to see seldom used Vladimir Radmanovic for all of five minutes. All hands were on deck except for Nazr Mohammed and Daequan Cook for some reason. With Mohammed on the bench the lineup at times looked like this; Gibson at center, Jimmy Butler at power forward, Luol Deng at small forward, Hamilton at shooting guard and Nate Robinson running the point. This is what I like to call a small lineup and this lineup won’t suffice when Chicago goes against bigger opponents down the road.
Suggestions? Simple, it’s time to dust off Mohammed and give him some minutes. His offensive impact is nowhere near Noah’s and his defense isn’t either but his presence in the lane will serve as a deterrent for small crafty guards trying to slither their ways into the lane. Noah has no timetable for return and for the Bulls that is the worst news they can get. The only good news may be that the NBA All-Star Game is around the corner. Noah has been voted an all-star but if he can’t play -which I assume he won’t- the rest will serve him well.
While the Bulls had solid efforts across the board against the Hawks – three players with double-doubles- they may not be so lucky down the road. It’s time for coach Tom Thibodeau to flex his coaching muscles and come up with some crafty lineups if he wants his team to continue to thrive before the All-Star Game.