- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah acknowledged he suffered a setback in his dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot and said he is doubtful to play against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their playoff series on Saturday.
"It's really disappointing for me," Noah said Friday. "You work really hard in the summer and during the season to be ready for situations like this. Just to be hurt is really disappointing. It is what it is. We fought hard to get here, and I think that we're a very capable team. It's going to be an exciting series against Brooklyn."
Noah missed 12 of the Bulls' past 15 games dealing with the injury. He returned for the final two games of the regular season, playing 14 minutes in each, and admitted after the regular-season finale against the Wizards that he felt "rusty."
Noah said he now regrets playing through the pain during some regular-season games.
"I've got a tear in my foot. I've got a tear in my foot, so it is what it is," Noah said. "I'm upset at myself because I let this linger for a long time, and I have nobody to blame but myself. I just wish that I was a little bit smarter. I played games in the regular season that I probably shouldn't have played. It's going to be tough, but these are the cards I was dealt, and I'll just do the best that I can to get back as quick as I can."
Noah said Nazr Mohammed will start at center in Game 1 whether Noah can play or not.
"I'm just taking it game by game," Noah said. "It's hard, but it's not about me. I'm just going to do everything I can to get back there and help the team as soon as I can. I'm just in a lot of pain right now. I'm trying to do everything I can to get back out there."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau classified Noah as day-to-day with the injury that has bothered the center for a long time.
"It's been a concern since the All-Star break," Thibodeau said. "It's a tricky injury. It's something that he's got to try and manage as best he can. He's doing all that he can. He wants to be out there very badly, but we don't want him out there if he's injured."
The task of matching up against Nets All-Star center Brook Lopez will go to Mohammed, a 14-year veteran who has played well in extended minutes this season replacing Noah. Mohammed had 17 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes against Washington Wizards on Wednesday and 16 points and 13 rebounds in a season-high 43 minutes against the Toronto Raptors on April 12.
"It was a master plan," Mohammed said with a laugh. "[Thibodeau] told me when I signed here they were going to save me all year and then unleash me at the end of the season. Nah, it's one of those things; that's how the season is. Jo was having an All-Star year and he was playing great. The opportunity wasn't there a lot in the beginning, but it's your job as a professional to stay ready because you never know when you're going to get thrown out there. The last thing you want to do is not help your team and embarrass yourself."
Mohammed said he feels bad for Noah.
"Just from me talking to him, Jo is such a passionate person, and this is the part of the year where he really shines and he really looks forward to ,so I feel bad for him just to be going through the aches and pains at this time of year," Mohammed said. "But he's going to do everything he can to get healthy, get back on the court, and help us in any way he can."