Joakim Noah declined to talk to the assembled media after Sunday morning’s shootaround at the United Center, saying, “I can’t do it,” when leaving the floor.
The Bulls’ All-Star center missed Friday’s practice after traveling to New York following the death of his mentor and former coach, Tyrone Green. Noah returned to Chicago for Saturday’s practice at the Berto Center.
“He’s doing as well as can be expected,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He was fine. Very sharp in practice, sharp yesterday. He’ll be ready tonight.”
It wouldn't be surprising if the emotional Noah channels his sadness into a passionate performance that the man he still referred to as "Mr. Green" would be proud of.
Butler on lower-seed playoff upsets: “Not us”
Jimmy Butler was aware of the spate of upsets on the first day of the postseason — including division rival Indiana, the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, losing at home to Atlanta — but isn’t concerned that the same fate could befall the Bulls in their series opener Sunday night against Washington at the United Center.
“Not really. It’s not us, so to speak. We know what we’re capable of, so we can only worry about the Chicago Bulls,” Butler said. “I saw the scores. Saw a little bit of a few, but I didn’t watch too much of it.
“Now it’s win or go home, you know? First team to win four games. You want to basically win them as soon as possible because that’s the more rest you get. We know this is a different type of basketball now,” he continued. “A lot of this game is mental, so if you can get a team back on their heels, arguing with each other and second-guessing themselves that’s a big part of the game because every possession is so monumental in the playoffs. It makes it a lot harder to correct things whenever you’re mentally frustrated.
“Everybody is going to know everybody inside and out. You’ve only got a few games to make your corrections, so you’ve got to do it quick, and sometimes on the fly.”
Swingman prepared for big minutes
Butler, who was tied for second in the league in minutes per game during the regular season, knows that he could be called upon for a repeat performance of last spring, which included three consecutive 48-minute games — while assigned to guard the likes of LeBron James — in these playoffs. All-Star point guard John Wall gets most of the headlines for Washington, but his 20-year-old backcourt partner, Bradley Beal, is another key component for the Wizards and Butler is likely to spend most of his time defending the second-year shooting guard.
He insisted that after a grueling regular season that was occasionally interrupted by injuries, his body has prepared itself for the challenge of the postseason.
“I think that more than any time I have to be able to do whatever my team needs me to do to help win,” Butler explained. “So if that’s 48 minutes, 50 minutes, however many it may be, I have to be ready to play.”