Following a team film session last Saturday, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau announced center Joakim Noah is “doubtful” to play against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals
Noah turned his left ankle during the 3rd quarter of Chicago’s Game 3 loss. The 76ers lead the series 2-1.
Initial X-rays on Noah’s left ankle were negative, a league source related. Football odds
After Chicago’s 79-74 loss, Noah was seen on crutches with a black aircast on his left ankle. He did not talk to reporters.
Thibodeau wasn’t letting his team use Noah’s injury as an excuse.
“The point is, injury is part of the game,” Thibodeau announced. “You have to have a mental toughness to get past all of that. We have had injuries all year and you just deal with it. If you look, you will find something every night, every game. Shorthanded, regular season, back to back, early start, whatever it is, or you can find a way to win. That is what you need. You want guys that have great will to win, and regardless of what the situations are will discover a way to win.”
Noah raced down the floor with 7:47 remaining in the quarter and rolled his ankle against Sixers guard Andre Iguodala’s foot while going up for a layup.
He writhed hurting for 1 or 2 seconds on the floor as Philadelphia followers cheered.
Iguodala was called a foul and Noah remained in the game, knocking down both free throws. A few seconds later on Noah tried to run down the floor, but his discomfort was apparent and he exited straight after.
Noah returned in the 3rd quarter and scored, however it failed to appear he would be in a position to play much the rest of the way. He was taken out with 8 minutes left in the quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
“He’s a fighter, and we all know that,” Bulls guard Rip Hamilton claimed. “We knew that before the game. Tonight truly showed; he tried to come back in, but he was just in too much pain. It’s difficult, man. When you’ve got men just falling by the wayside as the playoffs is going it is a hard thing.”
Without having Noah, the Bulls faltered down the stretch. Philadelphia erased a Chicago lead that was as high as 14 points in the fourth quarter in an ultimate 79-74 win.
“When Noah plays great, he’s sort of the soul of their team,” Sixers coach Doug Collins announced. “And they missed him.”
With Derrick Rose sidelined for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear he suffered in the 1st game of the series, Noah’s injury is the 2nd heavy blow the Bulls’ used roster.
“You never would like to see any person get hurt,” Sixers guard Lou Williams recounted. “It’s been a hard series for them. Noah is an important part of their team and you could see he was suffering. We must focus on us for Game Four. Andre (Iguodala) is hurting with an Achilles and a large amount of fellows are banged up.”