Joakim Noah played just 31 minutes, including only one possession in the final six minutes, in the Bulls’ loss to the Thunder yesterday.
the clock determined Noah couldn’t play heavy minutes because of a 32-minute restriction he’s been placed under, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
“I ran out of minutes with him,” Thibodeau said. “But I thought Jo played a very good game for us.”
“Yeah. Yeah, 32,” Thibodeau said of the restriction, while adding he doesn’t know when or if it’ll be lifted—even for the upcoming postseason.
Noah has played more than 32 minutes in 24 of his 56 games this season. So, there’s obviously some give here.
But with Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson already sidelined, perhaps Chicago is recommitting to its players’ long-term health. Managing Noah’s knee should certainly be a priority.
The Bulls are in a tight race with the Raptors and Wizards for the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. There’s solid a case the No. 4 seed – and avoiding a likely second-seeded Cavaliers in the second round – is the ideal outcome. For the same reason, the No. 5 seed might trump No. 3 – despite not having home-court advantage in the first round.
As Chicago weighs these scenarios, it makes sense resting players is part of the equation.