Joakim Noah has been known as the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls, and that was never more evident than his performance in Game 2 on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. With the Bulls desperately needing a win to even the series, Noah pushed the pain in his foot aside and did his part to help deliver a series tying victory.
“Just being able to play in the playoffs is something that I’ll never take for granted,” Noah told CSN Chicago after the game. “I haven’t played in almost a month before the playoffs, so I’m just trying to get in my rhythm. I missed a lot of open shots. I’ve just got to feel more comfortable, but I feel like overall, our team played more passionate basketball tonight and I feel that’s a plus because it was ugly in that Game 1.”
Indeed it was as Noah made a surprise appearance and start after reports surfaced that he’d be limited throughout the series. But he played nearly 26 minutes in Game 2 and notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. But it was the passion and energy he displayed that seemed to rub off the Bulls and regardless of what he does on the court, that’s where he impacts and helps the team most.
“He’s our leader. He’s been playing like that all year long. Even though he’s hurt, playing on one leg, he’s still out there doing his job. He did a great job and we’re going to take this win,” said Taj Gibson.
“He came up big for us, he was huge and that’s Jo. He’ll just keep playing hard. …Jo was huge. A lot of guys are playing hurt. Jo wants to play and it’s been frustrating for him,” Luol Deng added.
The big question now is how Noah’s foot feels in the days leading up to Game 3. With the way he played on Tuesday, you would think he wouldn’t be able to walk on Wednesday. But he’ll continue to get treatment and you can bet that on Thursday night, he’ll be ready to go.
“Chi-Town’s going to be ready on Thursday,” Noah said. “It’s going to be a battle. We’ll be ready, they’ll be ready; they’re going to make their adjustments. It’s postseason basketball. This is what it’s all about.”
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