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Tom Thibodeau unconcerned that Joakim Noah missed practice

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Best of seven

Updated: May 21, 2014 6:46AM

Joakim Noah has said on several occasions that this was the toughest NBA season he’s ever gone through.

It didn’t get any easier for the Bulls center last week.

Noah returned to practice Saturday after missing practice Friday. The All-Star center flew to New York to mourn the passing of his mentor, Tyrone Green.

Noah was unavailable for comment after practice Saturday, but he released a statement about Green’s passing.

“I am saddened by the passing of Mr. Green, who was like a second father to me,’’ Noah’s statement read.

The Bulls will host the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Sunday night. Coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t concerned with the mind-set of his emotional leader, despite the missed practice time.

“It’s a tough situation,’’ Thibodeau said. “Everyone grieves differently. He was very sharp in practice [Saturday]. Hopefully he’ll be fine [for Game 1].’’

Same old Thibodeau

It’s very likely that the Bulls will stay with the same starting lineup, as well as the same rotation off the bench, but Thibodeau was up to his usual gamesmanship.

“We have a rotation,’’ Thibodeau said. “That doesn’t mean … you never know how things unfold. If you have an injury or illness, that next guy has to get in there and get the job done. We saw that already. Winding down and D.J. [Augustin] missed for the birth of a child, Jimmer [Fredette] went in and did a great job. That’s what we expect from all our players.’’

In all likelihood, Fredette won’t see much playing time, at least in Game 1. Taj Gibson and Augustin have been the first two off the bench, and rookie Tony Snell and veteran Nazr Mohammed have had minutes sprinkled in.

Last stand?

Kirk Hinrich is a free agent after this season, and at age 33, he knows that he could be winding down his NBA career, as well as his days in the playoffs.

That’s why the veteran will embrace the opportunity.

“Yeah, I’ve always been excited to play in the playoffs, whether it was my first one or this being my ninth, so they’re all special,’’ Hinrich said. “But what makes it special is to perform.’’

The free-agent market will play a big factor in determining whether Hinrich is a Bull next season.


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