I waited for the Bulls bus to come to the Wachovia Center this morning just to see how bad starting center Joakim Noah was getting around with the ankle he sprained on Friday. Noah was limping badly with a hard boot on the foot. A little while later coach Tom Thibodeau announced that Noah would not be playing today when the Bulls and the Sixers go at it in Game 4 of this first round series.
In his place Thibodeau announced that Omer Asik will start. While losing Noah is huge for the Bulls, the Sixers insist it changes nothing as far as preparing for today.
"Much like Noah he's great on the offensive boards," said Spencer Hawes of Asik. "He's a guy who is going to occupy you, he's a big body as well. He's not out around the floor as much as Noah, handling the ball but at the same time you have to be equally aware knowing he's going to be on that backboard.
"They have the personnel to go a couple different ways, which makes them dangerous. We have to play our best at all times, no matter who is on the court. The key to today's game, I think, is getting out to a good start and playing loose and same thing it's been all series - controlling the boards. That means we want to get some offensive rebounds, extend possessions and make sure we don't allow them to do that."
Game 5 will be Tuesday night in Chicago with the late starting time of 9:30.