PHILADELPHIA --- Joakim Noah looked tentative while warming up on a heavily taped left ankle as coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman looked on before the game.
It's not a matter of whether Noah wants to play, but how effective he can be if he does play. Judging by how gingerly he was moving while mostly shooting during warmups, while he was cleared by the medical staff to play, he likely would not have effective, which is why it was decided that if he's going to return in this series the Bulls will have to force a Game 7 in Chicago on Saturday.
Fans at Wells Fargo Center cheered when Noah turned his ankle grotesquely in Game 3 and booed when he was helped off the floor. Before Thursday night's game, Noah exchanged words with Sixers fans who questioned his toughness and taunted him while he was warming up.
"We know his will," Thibodeau said. "He obviously wants to play. Joakim is a fierce, fierce competitor, but if he can't move it's not going to help us. We have to make sure he's healthy enough, get's cleared medically and that he can function well on the floor."
Sixers coach Doug Collins said his team would be prepared regardless of whether Noah played.
"[He brings] tremendous energy, playmaking, great offensive rebounding, intensity, all the things that matter in a playoff series," Sixers coach Doug Collins said.
Thibodeau got frustrated and cursed under his breath after his pregame interview session when asked if it was a coaches responsibility to make sure players don't put their desire to play before their physical welfare. Thibs said repeatedly during the interview session that Noah would first have to be cleared by the medical staff before Noah would be allowed back on the floor.