After hobbling through 13 minutes in a Game 1 loss to the Nets and taking one off day, Bulls center Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) is apparently ready for a bigger role.
Noah will start Game 2 tonight and play 20 to 25 minutes, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Larger contributions from Noah might be the Bulls’ best chance of winning this series. It also might their best chance of destroying an All-Star player.
At some point, Tom Thibodeau must look out for Noah’s long-term health, though I understand why it’s tempting to ride Noah.
Game 1 turned in the 12 minutes both Noah and Gibson were on the bench together, as the Nets were +13 in that span. If Noah can play 25 minutes, that means Gibson would have to play just 23 minutes to avoid a lineup lacking either – though Gibson hasn’t played that much since March, and that would allow no time for them to share the court.
The Bulls are dealing with razor-thin margins, and at a certain point they should give up and shut down Noah. For at least one more game, it appears they’re going to give Brooklyn their best shot.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.