Word out of the Chicago Bulls’ camp before tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets is that Joakim Noah intends to play, while Marco Belinelli was a limited participant in practice and afternoon shootaround and is a game-time decision.
Noah has missed the last three games with a case of plantar fasciitis, the same injury that sidelined him for 18 games in 2009-2010. Richard Hamilton suffered the same injury in November and missed nearly a month, but apparently Noah’s ready to go. Presumably, Fred Cleared Him.
Belinelli suffered a sprained ankle early on in the Bulls’ loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday, fighting through the injury to score 24 points in 24 minutes on 9/13 shooting. Of course, the tricky thing about ankle injuries is that they tend to stiffen and swell up after the fact, so even though he could play on Monday, it’s hard to say whether he’ll be able to go tonight.
If Noah can’t go, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer will log the majority of the minutes at center and power forward, with Luol Deng and/or Jimmy Butler sliding to the four spot with smaller lineups. If Belinelli’s out, Hamilton would probably get a few more minutes, with Butler and Daequan Cook filling the rest of the hole on the wing. We could also see some Nate Robinson/Marquis Teague backcourts, although that seems less likely.
The game will start at 9:30 central time on TNT.