Joakim Noah will return to action Wednesday in Toronto when the Bulls (38-16) against the terrible CRaptors (15-42), playing around eight minutes at a time, K.C. Johnson reports at the Chicago Tribune, adding Tom Thibodeau hasn't come to a final decision on how the bigs will rotate:
"A starter usually goes from 8 to 10 and in
some cases 12 (minutes)," Thibodeau said after the morning shootaround
at Air Canada Centre. "But for him, ideally, more around that 8-minute
mark. That first game back we'll read how he's doing."
Thibodeau wouldn't reveal if Kurt Thomas or Omer Asik would replace
Noah. Asked if he could envision keeping all three big men in the
rotation as Noah works himself back into game shape, Thibodeau indicated
that would be unlikely.
"That's a hard read right now," he said. "Until we see Jo out there
and I can see how many minutes he can handle, I don't know. We have to
keep in mind where we're going for the playoffs. Adding to the rotation
right now will be difficult. I'm not ruling it out either. I like the
depth we have up front. A big part of it will be the matchups."
Add in that Thibs wants to raise the pace with Noah, Wednesday is the front of a back-to-back, closing with the Heat (42-15) at the United Center on Thursday, and short shifts make more sense. Toss in the Thibs tends to struggle with removing Noah from games and this limit is a good marker for him to gameplan.
After going 16-8 in Noah's first 24 games of the season, the Bulls have
gone 22-8 in the 30 games since the Dec.16 surgery to repair a torn
ligament in his thumb. He reportedly injured the right hand during a
late November game in Sacramento.
Noah was averaging 14.0 PPG,
11.7 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 36.8 MPG, posting a 19.5 PER before going down
-- all career-highs. He was rebounding at an 18.3% rate -- 12.9%
offensive and 23.2% defensive -- while posting what's now a team-high 96
Defensive Rating among everyday players. His FG% is .514 and his FT%
was .725 for a TS% of .570.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.