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Bulls, Joakim Noah ready for heated rivalry

Bulls center Joakim Noah leaves court after Chicago Bulls defeated Miami He106-102 Wednesday March 14 2012 United Center. | TOM

Bulls center Joakim Noah leaves the court after the Chicago Bulls defeated the Miami Heat 106-102 Wednesday March 14, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 4, 2013 3:03PM



MIAMI – Not a rivalry?

Chris Bosh didn’t even let a media member finish a question about Bulls center Joakim Noah on Friday afternoon, before interrupting.

Asked about Noah being “a guy you will have to deal with all night,’’ the Miami big man quickly shot back, “Yeah, he’ll have to deal with us.’’

“They all play a certain type of way, they play physical basketball,’’ Bosh explained of the showdown with the Bulls. “We pride ourselves on being able to play a bunch of different styles.

“They present a unique challenge. They play a lot of good team ball, they have a very unique defense where they really try and slow the game down, so we just have to make sure we play our game. Usually the team that plays their game and is in their comfort zone is the aggressor, and we want to play our style of basketball.’’

Something the 22-8 Heat haven’t had much problem doing this season.

As for the Bulls, they are glad just to have Noah back, with the veteran sidelined the last three days with flu-like symptoms.

Noah actually arrived to the arena early Friday morning to get some extra work, and while head coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t declare him 100 percent to start, Noah insisted that he would be back in there against Miami.

“Always. Always big to play here. It’s going to fun,’’ Noah said.

Asked if he considered the Heat a rival, considering Noah once labeled the group “Hollywood as hell,’’ after they knocked the Bulls out of the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago, some wounds still haven’t healed.

“No, I don’t think it’s just another team in the East,’’ Noah said. “They’re very good, we want to compete against the best, and it’s always a battle. It’s going to be exciting.’’

Three keys to enduring the Heat:

1. Slow them down – There aren’t many teams the Derrick Rose-less Bulls can run with these days, and they definitely can’t run with Miami. No way, no how, not in any arena. The Bulls have to make it a slow game, and make sure they rebound well so that Miami can’t get their transition game going.

“Rebounding, defense, try to get them the least amount of opportunities in transition because when they start playing that fast tempo, transition game, they’re pretty much unstoppable,’’ Noah said. “So it’s up to us to try and slow them down as much as possible.’’

2. Sweep the knee – LeBron James said that he will likely play against the Bulls, despite a sore knee keeping him out of practice on Thursday. The King didn’t sound like the knee was 100 percent, however, which means the Bulls need to play him physical. Turn James into an outside shooter who is tentative in attacking the rim.

3. Calling Taj – Carlos Boozer is not a good matchup against Miami, especially with the Heat going small. If Boozer is ineffective early, Thibodeau needs to get Taj Gibson in there quickly and lean on him for heavy minutes. Gibson can guard three positions, and against the smaller Bosh he can match-up in the middle with no problem.



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