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Joakim Noah starts Game 1 for Bulls

Joakim Noah's status is uncertain for the first

Joakim Noah's status is uncertain for the first round of the playoffs. Credit: AP

There already was one noteworthy upset when Saturday night's Nets-Bulls series began. Joakim Noah started for the Bulls.

The standout center had been considered an unlikely participant against the Nets, at least in Game 1, as recently as Friday. He has been bothered by plantar fasciitis, a painful foot injury similar to the one that has hindered Joe Johnson of the Nets.

"He was really disappointed yesterday," coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game Saturday night. "He said he felt a little better yesterday, but not much . . . So that was a big concern. But he said he felt a lot better today, so he wanted to go through the shootaround. He did that and felt fine after."

There is no telling how much a factor Noah can be in the rest of the series. He played the first seven minutes Saturday night, was scoreless, then sat on the bench for the rest of the first half.

"When he has played the last couple [times], he hasn't had a problem playing or after the game. It's really the next day when soreness comes into play," Thibodeau said.

The Nets said for the past few days that their preparation would be the same whether or not Noah played. "I'm sick of talking about injuries," Deron Williams said. "We can't worry about that. We've got to worry about us."

Thibodeau did not rule out the possibility that Derrick Rose might play before the series is over although the star point guard has been out since last year's playoffs with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"It's unlikely that he'll play,'' Thibodeau said, "but the way the playoffs are structured, a week from now, maybe he does make that final step."

New York Sports