As expected, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau announced today that Joakim Noah will return to action against the Raptors on Wednesday, according to ESPN Chicago, who did a telephone interview with the coach:â†µ
"He's coming back," he said in the telephone interview. "He was cleared to go last week."â†µ
Back for Toronto?
"Oh yeah," he said.
You could argue that the Bulls didn't skip a beat without Noah: he missed 28 games, in which the Bulls went 20-8. But his rebounding skill and energetic approach to every game should lift the Bulls to "even higher heights," if that's possible. The three stars of the Bulls -- Noah, Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer -- have been together in the same lineup in only seven of the 54 games thus far. It's a credit to the team and the play of backups like Kurt Thomas that the Bulls are 38-16 and only two games off the pace to lead the Eastern Conference.â†µ
Coincidentally, Noah's last game -- played after his thumb ligament tear was diagnosed -- was also in Toronto on Dec. 15. He had 11 points and 11 rebounds that night. Wednesday night will be a good test -- the Bulls play the Heat in Chicago on Thursday.