As anyone who so much as owns a TV has probably heard, the Miami Heat are coming to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bulls tomorrow, and they’ve won a few games of late. (By a few, I mean 27. In a row.) The Bulls face an uphill battle regardless of extenuating circumstances, but with Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli missing Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, things don’t look good.
The good news is both players are officially game-time decisions for tomorrow. The bad news is Tom Thibodeau is notoriously liberal with that distinction, which means nobody knows whether they’ll actually play.
The Bulls really need both players to have a chance. Belinelli is one of only a few semi-reliable shooters they have — shooting being especially important against an elite defense like the Heat’s — and Noah is key to both the Bulls’ defense and their rebounding attack. When they took down Miami in January, the Bulls needed a combined 12 offensive rebounds from Noah and Carlos Boozer to do it. Nazr Mohammed has played a lot better than could reasonably have been expected in Noah’s stead, but he figures to be little more than a liability against the Heat.
Of course, with the way the Heat have been playing over their winning streak, it may not matter either way. But I’d feel a lot better with at least Noah in the lineup. Then again, it’s a lot more important to have Noah for the playoffs than for a relatively meaningless regular season game in March. So…I don’t know.
Derrick Rose, meanwhile, continues to practice, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, but seems unlikely to play tomorrow.
This is in keeping with Rose’s statement that “only God knows” when he’ll return. Until then, there’s not really anything we can do.