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Joakim Noah predicts big things if Bulls are healthy

Bulls center Joakim Noah grabs fourth quarter rebound during Chicago Bulls 93-82 wover Philadelphi76ers Thursday February 28 2013. | Tom

Bulls center Joakim Noah grabs a fourth quarter rebound during the Chicago Bulls 93-82 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday February 28, 2013. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 22, 2013 12:09PM



It wasn’t exactly a guarantee as much as a very generic promise.

All-Star Joakim Noah was asked on Wednesday how far the Bulls could go in the Eastern Conference playoffs if everyone was healthy, and he responded, “We’re going to win … we’re going to win.’’

No details offered up. No details really needed.

Considering the big “if’’ that’s still hanging over this team, there really wasn’t a reason for Noah to expound.

Details are tough to come by these days on the topic of injuries. Especially when it comes to the elephant in the room that is Derrick Rose.

“He’s got to feel good for a while,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said “That’s the most important thing. When he finally goes onto the floor, we want him to be comfortable. Whatever the circumstances are, you’ve got to make the best of those circumstances. If it’s limited minutes, that’s fine, too. We’ll see. I don’t want to jump ahead.

“I just want him to keep making the progress he’s making, he feels a little bit better each day.’’

Thibodeau said that the final hurdle seems to be his comfort level with his explosiveness and added that in practice, he has looked like the Rose of old “in many ways.’’

“You’re never going to see, no matter what we’re doing we can’t get it to a game-like intensity,’’ Thibodeau said. “We strive to, but that’s not going to happen in practice. And his game is explosion, stop and go, all that, so he has to feel very good about that. It’s very unique. It’s power, it’s speed, quickness, agility, it’s a combination of all those things. His change of direction is such a big part of his game, we just got to make sure that he’s completely ready to do that. He’s handling his part great.’’

Thibodeau did say that the team does have “general parameters’’ on a minutes plan for Rose when, and if, he returns, but until he gives them the thumbs up, there’s no reason to divulge the plan.

“He’ll tell all of us,’’ Thibodeau said. “Trust me, he understands what’s going on here. We just have to let him work through it.

“As I told you guys before, I think he’s being very truthful in what he says. I don’t think he knows. The way he’s approached it, and this is from the moment he had the surgery, the next day, he puts everything he has into everything he’s asked to do. He said he’ll know when it’s time. And we have to trust him. Like I said before, I trust him implicitly.’’

Rose did go through another full practice on Wednesday and was joined by Taj Gibson [left MCL sprain], while Kirk Hinrich [stress reaction right foot] “did a lot more.’’

Gibson said afterward that he planned to play against Portland Thursday night.

“Knowing me I’m going to try and play,’’ the reserve said.

Bigger question? Did Gibson have a sense that Rose could be playing soon?

“Yeah, I think he’s doing a great job,’’ Gibson said. “He’s staying the course. That’s the thing I see about his progression. Since I’ve been [injured], I’ve been doing most of the same drills he does, so seeing progression, seeing him get back to almost full strength is great.’’

Gibson was then asked if he was seeing the Rose of old out there yet.

“You’ll have to wait and see,’’ he replied.



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