Noah and Gibson return as Bulls prepare for playoffs

The Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic last night keeping alive their slim hopes for a fifth seeded matchup against a Nets team they’ve beaten with the D-League portion of their roster.

However, the more important news is that Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah returned to action and suffered no setbacks, albeit in limited minutes. Noah played for 14 while Taj added 21, and Tom Thibodeau admitted after the game that both players may enter the playoffs with minute limits upon them.

A healthy Noah and Gibson leave the Bulls with a shot to upset whomever they play while an unhealthy front court would leave the Bulls vulnerable and likely eliminated in five games.

Chicago’s still no cinch to win, but they’ll at least have a shot.

The Bulls look most likely to start on the road against the Pacers, but they won’t know their ultimate fate until the final day of the season.

Scenarios to play Indiana:
2 Atlanta wins
Atlanta split + Bulls loss

Scenarios to play Brooklyn:
2 Atlanta losses
Atlanta split + Bulls win

With the Hawks hosting Toronto tonight and visiting a Knicks team likely focused on resting players, their most likely scenario is a two win finish. The Bulls also finish up against a Washington team playing for pride rather than packing its bags, so the Bulls have the toughest game left to play as well.

That said, I wonder if the Knicks have any thoughts at all of trying to win the Hawks game just to push the Bulls in the opposite half of the bracket given Chicago is 4-0 against them this season. I doubt it, but it’s fun to think they respect us that much.

I’m not upset about a sixth seed spot for Chicago. They’ll match up against a Pacers team that lacks a go to scorer, and if the Bulls can get some hot shooting from the three point line and stay healthy, they have every chance to win that series.

The Bulls match up better against the Nets, but they’ll have a shot against the Pacers and an upset would mean the Bulls take on the Knicks or Celtics in round two, both matchups you’d think Chicago has a reasonable shot of winning.

In case you were wondering, the old rule about setting a playoff roster is gone, so the Bulls don’t need to rule Rose eligible or ineligible for the playoffs but can decide on his status on a game by game basis.

In that way, they can continue the charade that he might play at any point. However, don’t expect God to let Derrick know its time in the next month, hopefully the two are communicating by October.

It’s been a long draining season for Bulls fans, filled with some epic moments and hope gone south. The Bulls aren’t poised for a championship run, but we still might have a fun playoff ride coming.


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  • Best stats of the night:
    1. Luol Deng -- 32 minutes
    2. Jimmy B. -- 37 minutes.

    Lu still had 18 pts and 8 ast. He usually takes 12 more minutes to do that.

    Also the +/- numbers for Booz, Kirk, and Deng were a ridiculous +32, +29, and +25. Probably a symptom of the blow out, but those three stand out a lot against the rest of the team. Next highest was Jimmy at +15.

  • Bulls stand a chance against Indy and Brooklyn but it isn't likely they beat either one. When you don't have a consistent enough offense to put points on the board you're not going to win very many games. That being said the playoffs are a totally different animal in a sense that very few games are going to be blowouts because the game is much slower (except MIA vs MIL..that will be a sweep and will have a couple blowouts). Anyway, the bulls will make it tough on whoever they face because they're good defensively so it'll be a grind it out series. I expect the bulls (especially being on the road) to lose no matter the opponent and in either scenario it'll be 6 games.

  • So Taj and Noah will accept a minutes limit no question to be able to help the team in the playoffs but then organization and Derrick have this crazy plan that he won't play until he's 110% and ready to play 40 a night again.

  • Atlanta did its part by losing tonight!
    5th seed is a definite possibility, perhaps even a probability at this point.. I don't know if that's good or bad, but for the last game...

    Bulls win + Atlanta win = 5th Seed
    Bulls win + Atlanta loss = 5th Seed
    Bulls loss + Atlanta loss = 5th Seed
    Bulls loss + Atlanta win = Sixth Seed

  • From the box score it seems Atlanta wasn't even trying to win tonight's game. Their starters played less than 20 minutes and the bench guys were playing 25+ minutes. Atlanta was down 21 after 3 quarters. Looks like Atlanta isn't particularly interested in the 5th seed.

  • I think it's a good thing if bulls get 5th seed. If they get 6 seed then they will be in a dog fights with Indiana and then I shootout,with the Knicks. (If they beat celtics. But believe celtics upset knicks though) Yes they have a chance against anyone in the the east but say the bulls do win by being in 6 seed they would be too worn down in the conference finals. Everyone says well we won't beat heat anyway. I still would rather bulls face nets. bulls would be somewhat fresh and hopefully healthy. Maybe a d rose plays.

  • Don't know why hawks trying to avoid Miami. They not getting out first round.

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