Noah better but uncertain vs. Heat

DEERFIELD, Ill. – The Chicago Bulls will play it safe and wait until Wednesday before announcing the availability of Joakim Noah, who has missed the last two games because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

The good news for the Bulls is that head coach Tom Thibodeau said that Noah is improving.

The Bulls will need all the help they can get Wednesday when they play host to the red-hit Miami Heat at the United Center. The Heat has won 27 consecutive games, the second longest win streak in NBA history, just six back of the record 33-game streak by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

It seemed clear, though, that Thibideau already has prepared an alternate plan in the event Noah isn’t able to play against the Heat.

“Well, we have a lot of versatility,” Thibodeau said. “We can go big, we can go small. Nazr (Mohammed) has shown that he’s a smart player and can play body position defense to protect the rim. I think you have to have size out there. I think that’s important against this team. Rebounding’s huge, you can’t overlook that. We have to be ready.”

Marco Belinelli, who has been dealing with an abdominal strain, did not go through all phases of Tuesday’s practice as a precaution. Thibodeau considered him a game-time decision for Wednesday.

Richard Hamilton (back) and Derrick Rose (knee) are not expected to play either. Rose participated in the entire practice yet again and also went through a one-on-one challenge with his teammates after practice. Hamilton continues to improve, according to Thibodeau.