Joakim Noah uncertain vs. Nets

CHICAGO -- Despite seeing action in each of the final two games of the regular season, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah still is in danger of missing all or part of the opening round of the NBA playoffs.

Coach Tom Thibodeau is planning on having Noah available for the first-round series that begins Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets, but admitted that some uncertainty still hangs in the air when it comes to the All-Star who has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

During an appearance on ESPN Chicago 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show," Thibodeau was asked if it is possible that Noah doesn't play.

"It's possible, yeah; he's still day to day," Thibodeau said. "If he has soreness, we're going to take it as it comes."

Noah has played in just three games since March 21, and played just 14 minutes in each of the last two games of the season. He looked sluggish in two separate stints on the court Wednesday against the Washington Wizards and afterward admitted to feeling "rusty." When not soaking his right foot in a bucket of ice water after the game, he walked around the locker room with a severe limp.

Even if Noah does play against the Nets, it's likely he will be on a severe minutes restriction. How much might Noah be able to play?

"I don't know and that's the unfortunate part," Thibodeau said. "All I know is that we're better with him on the floor. I prefer for him to be out there extended minutes but whatever he can give us we would like him to do it. But if he can't go he can't go and we have to go to the next guy."

Nazr Mohammed figures to pick up key minutes in place of Noah.

As for who starts at shooting guard, Thibodeau said he will go with the emerging Jimmy Butler. There was some thought Thibodeau might prefer the playoff experience of Richard Hamilton.

"It's Jimmy," Thibodeau said. "He's played extremely well. He's earned it and that was the one positive (of so many injuries this season). I think you have to make the best of what your circumstances are and I think with all those injuries, Jimmy had an opportunity to play and grow. He's played at a very high level so that's been a big plus for us."

Despite all signs pointing to Derrick Rose not playing until next season, the door still remains open for his return in the playoffs.

"It's always possible, but he's been out all season now so we'll see where that goes," Thibodeau said.

While Rose continues to impress in practice, playing in games is another level above that. And even another level higher than that are games in the playoffs and the intensity that comes with them.

Questions remain as to whether Rose isn't playing because of physical restrictions or if he's lacking the confidence he needs to operate at a high level.

"I think it's probably both," Thibodeau said. "But his game is so unique from the standpoint of it's built on power, speed, change of directions, stop and go, explosion, and he has to be able to do that comfortably. Until he's sure he can do that we don't want him out there. He has to be comfortable. We knew this would be a long process and we have to continue to be patient. And I think we have to do what is right and I feel we've done that."