The narrative surrounding the Bulls now revolves around — what else — their health, as the curiosity with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will no longer be hidden with Game 1 of their playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks just hours away.

Kirk Hinrich is out with a hyperextended left knee and according to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the reserve guard’s improvement has “sort of plateaued off. He’s been stuck for a few days. Hopefully they can find something to get him better.”

Hinrich suffered his injury in Milwaukee against the Bucks weeks ago and hasn’t been right since. Rose’s final game before the revelation about his torn menial meniscus was a late February game against the Bucks where he shot just 1-for-13, and then this latest odyssey began, leading to this.

But now Rose will play four segments and his playing time will vary depending on his performance, Thibodeau has indicated.

Rose hasn’t played more than 28 minutes in his five games back from injury, a 22-point, eight-assist showing against the Philadelphia 76ers, so it’s not known how much Thibodeau will stretch Rose if he has to in the playoff opener.

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“It’s just him playing well,” Thibodeau said. “We’ll see what he can handle. Same thing with Joakim. From the minutes standpoint, I think we’re in a good place.”


Speaking of Noah, he was in full playoff mode — as in not in the mood to do much talking after morning shootaround — using the phrase “time will tell” repeatedly.

He did reveal he doesn’t have any restrictions on playing time after missing the last two games of the regular season with left hamstring tendinitis.

“Nope, no restrictions,” Noah said.

And when asked about Pau Gasol and Nazr Mohammed having to speak up like they have through the regular season when the Bulls went through their lulls, he ended his media session with this statement:

“It’s the playoffs. Everybody plays basketball this time of year, every basketball fan, everybody’s excited. Trying to stay focused as a unit. Embarking on a young journey.”