At this time of year, it can be difficult to tell which injuries are serious and which are listed by teams because they want to rest players and avoid fines. Joakim Noah has played only one game since March 21, so his injury definitely was serious, though it’s unclear to what degree the Bulls are delaying his return in advance of the playoffs. Maybe not much, if it all. ESPN:
“The concern now is more short-term,” Forman said on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “I think this is the type of injury where we’re trying to manage it and get him better where he’s more comfortable.
“But I think this is going to bother him now throughout obviously the season and into the playoffs. We’ll look at the options once the season is over as far as trying to remedy what’s going on with his plantar fasciitis.”
Noah – both one of the league’s most underrated players and a Defensive Player of the Year contender – would be very important in a potential first-round series with the Nets, whom Chicago would play if the season ended right now.
Brook Lopez ranks second in the NBA with 12.0 points in the paint per game (behind LeBron James’ 12.9), and Noah is one of the league’s top paint defenders. Bulls opponents shoot worse (6 percentage points) and less often (6 percentage points when divided by all shots) in the paint when Noah plays than when he’s on the bench.
Chicago’s other top interior defender, Taj Gibson, has also been injured. The Bulls likely need at least one contributing to have a good chance of beating Brooklyn.