Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Noah expects to make preseason debut
By Doug Padilla
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said his injured groin has improved, and he expects to make his preseason debut Wednesday.
After missing the first three preseason games, including Saturday's contest in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Noah is expecting to take the court against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center.
"I'm just really excited to be able to play," Noah said. "It's been awhile. I feel like we've been having a very solid training camp. It feels good to be home."
If point guard Derrick Rose returns after missing Saturday's game with a sore knee, it will be the first time Noah and Rose have been on the court together since the 2011-12 playoffs.
Rose missed Saturday's game in Rio de Janeiro because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Thibodeau is hoping to give Rose more minutes on Wednesday to see what he can handle. He played 23 minutes in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 7.
"We'll see what he can handle," Thibodeau said. "We got to work him up to starter's minutes, but we'll see."
The Bulls still have nearly two weeks and five more preseason games to get in sync on the offensive end.
"I think we got a lot of dogs on this team, a lot of aggressive guys who attack the basket," Noah said. "Our defense and offense will get better and better as we go along. Our chemistry is the most important thing. I feel like we have the players and the offense. Now it's on us to jell and make it work."
With Rose out last season, Noah had more responsibilities on the offensive end than ever before. Whether that continues remains to be seen.
"It depends," Noah said. "Every game is different, depending on players' strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, having Derrick back, we want to play through him as much as possible. But depending on the players who are on the court, that's got to be our biggest strength, seeing where we can attack most efficiently."
Playing without Rose last season might have been hard on the Bulls, but Jimmy Butler was able to emerge and has become a starter this season, while Noah was able to show that he is more than a defender and rebounder.
"His skill set, he can adapt to a lot of things," coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah. "The pick-and-roll, the high pick-and-roll with he and Derrick has always been very effective. We can run our offense through him and let Derrick come off of screens, so there's a lot of versatility. Sometimes you overlook how good he is offensively. He's got the ability to read and make plays, and make decisions. He's got great vision, he's a great screener, he attacks the offensive board, and I think those extra possessions are huge for us."
As far as Wednesday's game, though, it figures to be more about getting in shape.
"You can do all the things on the sideline and running, but there's nothing that comes close to game-time conditioning," said Noah, who has been practicing between games. "It's going to be hard, but I'm really excited to get on the court and give what I got."
While the rest of the starters have their minutes extended Wednesday, Noah will be on a short leash.
"I want to see where his conditioning is," Thibodeau said. "He's handled this part great and he was practicing, so that part I feel pretty good about. But when you get out there and you're taking more contact, that's going to take more out of you. So I want to see how he responds to that. But I think overall, he's feeling pretty well. You just have to get him out there and he's got to get work with the starting unit."
ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.