Bulls' Joakim Noah ready for opener

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah says he is "100 percent" ready to play against the Miami Heat in Tuesday's regular season opener.

Noah, who has been battling a groin injury throughout the preseason, said earlier in the week it was possible that he would miss the opener but now appears confident he will be able to play. He went through all of Sunday's practice without any limitations.

"I feel pretty good," Noah said. "[Practice is] different than a game but I feel good and I'm really excited about Tuesday."

Noah said he really didn't consider actually sitting out against the Heat.

"I think if my groin was still bothering me we'd have to talk about it because I didn't want it to linger on all season," he said. "It would have been really tough to sit out a game that I've been waiting for all summer. I've been training for this game all summer. So it would have been tough but we got to think big picture."

The big picture for the Bulls is that both Noah and injured guard Kirk Hinrich are now on track to play Tuesday. Hinrich, who has missed the last week because of a concussion and a shoulder injury also went through all of practice and says he is feeling much better.

"I'm feeling good," Hinrich said. "I participated in practice and I was pretty happy with it. [The shoulder's] feeling good. I was happy I was able to get this practice under my belt and have practice [Monday] and hopefully be ready to go. I passed all the [concussion] tests. Everything's looking really good right now."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn't say if either player was definitely going to play Tuesday but did sound optimistic about their chances. After sounding frustrated about Noah's lack of mobility and conditioning due to the groin injury, Thibodeau said his All-Star center has "been pain free for four or five days."

"They went through everything," Thibodeau said. "They came in [Saturday], they were fine so we'll see where they are."

Noah admitted that opening up against the defending champion Heat means a little more to him.

"Of course," he said. "Duh. Every time you play against Miami it's a statement [game]. It's the beginning of our season, we're a hungry group. We've been waiting for this game for a long time. It's one of 82 but we know every time we play against Miami it's important."

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