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Bulls center Joakim Noah is stoked to play Heat

Updated: March 22, 2013 10:44AM

It would seem that Bulls-Heat only has true meaning in the postseason, especially with Miami having eliminated the then-top seed in the East back in the 2010-11 playoffs, sitting the Bulls down in five games.

Not so, according to Joakim Noah, as the Bulls prepared to host the defending NBA champions Thursday night at the United Center.

“No, I don’t think you look at it like that,’’ Noah said Wednesday. “Every game is an obstacle. The NBA season is very long, grueling. It’s very hard. The playoffs is what it is all about, but winning these games in the regular season is very important. It gives you confidence, gives you good seeding. We know that we have one of the toughest buildings to play in, and we want that in the playoffs.’’

Noah also didn’t agree with coach Tom Thibodeau that Bulls-Heat is just another regular-season game.

“It’s not, it’s really not,’’ Noah said. “These are the games that you circle on the calendar. These are the games that you train for.’’

Staying the course

Thibodeau reiterated that Thursday’s trade deadline would likely come and go with the Bulls barely lifting a finger.

“We like the guys we have here on our team, so we’re planning to move forward with the guys we do have,’’ Thibodeau said.

Praising the ‘King’

Noah didn’t interact with LeBron James during All-Star Weekend, but he did at least admit that the Heat small forward is one of the best in the game today.

“Yeah, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due,’’ Noah said when asked if he respected James. “You’ve got to respect your opponent, but at the same time, we feel like we’re more than capable of winning, so we respect our abilities, too.’’

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