Joakim Noah is one player that the Chicago Bulls have had to lean on heavily to remain in the playoff hunt with Derrick Rose out. He is playing 38.3 minutes per game after averaging only 30.4 last season. Noah has responded to the increase in playing time, as he is averaging a double-double that includes career highs in points (12.1) and rebounds (11.4).
That doesn’t mean he isn’t tired. After logging 41 minutes in a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, Noah took a friendly jab at Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for running him ragged.
“It’s definitely physical … definitely both,” he said when reporters asked if it was more a physical or mental challenge to play so many minutes. “It’s not really right after the game, but the next morning is the roughest. We have a great coach, but he doesn’t understand the whole resting [thing] yet, I don’t think. So … it’s all good. We all want to win. So, it’s good.”
The Chicago Sun-Times pointed out that Thibodeau chose to play four starters for eight or more minutes in the fourth quarter against Brooklyn, despite the fact that his team led by double digits throughout most of the game. On Sunday against the Indiana Pacers, Noah played only 32 minutes. Chicago lost that game 97-92.
It probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea for Thibodeau to rest some of his starters down the stretch against the Nets, especially since he knew his team had to play back-to-back games — the second of which was against the Pacers, who are second in the Eastern Conference standings. However, there isn’t much to question about the way Thibodeau has coached this season. The Bulls are in 5th place in the East and in line for a playoff spot. Considering the 2011 NBA MVP has watched the entire thing from the bench, Chicago’s coach must be doing a lot of things right.
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