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Joakim Noah may be back earlier than expected

Jan 18, 2011, 4:09 PM EDT

Image (1) Noah_no1-thumb-250x325-20118.jpg for post 4115

Maybe, finally, the Bulls will get healthy. Joakim Noah gets the pins out his thumb next week (things that sound painful include…) and he says on Bulls.com he hopes to be back sooner rather than later.

The original planned return date was late February (right after the All-Star Game) but things may happen earlier.

“I’m just trying to control what I can control right now,” said Noah of a possible return date. “I’m all about getting this pin out of my finger and getting my hand back to 100 percent. Hopefully it’s before that because I would love to play in that game.”

The Bulls are good — 28-13 and the three seed in the East as of today — but we still don’t know how good. Carlos Boozer missed the start of the season with his injury then not long after his return Noah went out with his hand injury. Derrick Rose is having the kind of season that gets him mentioned in MVP conversations, but we still don’t know just how good the entire Bulls package would be. Can they compete with Boston/Miami/Orlando?

We should find out the second half of the season. If nobody else busts up a hand.

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