Following the Cavs win over the Bulls in early April, Joakim Noah said he was looking forward to a rematch in the NBA playoffs.
He got his wish. Round four between LeBron James and Joakim Noah tips off Monday night as the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
After defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in six games, Noah said something no one expected.
“I never thought I’d say this, but I’m very excited to go to Cleveland.”
There are a few guys in today’s NBA that you hate to go up against, but Love to have on your team due to their physicality and play. James said Joakim Noah is that guy for the Bulls, but now, the Cavs have a guy of their own.
“It’s probably like Perk,” James said. “A guy that you hate to compete against but if he’ you’re teammate, you probably, you love him. I’m guessing that’s what it is. But for us, we’ll be ready for the challenge.
“For us, it’s not just Joakim, but he’s one of their glue guys. He plays well, they play well, his energy, his effort, you love to watch him. As a competitor, you hate him, but it’s all for the love of the game.”
They’ve had many physical and verbal encounters over the years, but this situation between James and Noah was the fire-starter:
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, head coach David Blatt often uses his opponents quotes as ‘bulletin-board material’ to fire up his team before games, but he doesn’t think that the Cavs will need much to be motivated for this series, especially with the history of these two teams.
“He’s saying what he should say, because that’s what it is,” Blatt said. “Why would you say anything different? I wouldn’t expect him to say anything different. What they should and shouldn’t do, I guess that’s up to the individual, but I certainly don’t have any problem with that whatsoever.”
Despite being down two starters, at least without Smith for the first two games, the Cavs are confident going into the series, and LeBron says they’ll need to key in on some things to be successful.
“Turnovers and rebounding,” James said. “Can’t turn the ball over against a team like that, get D-Rose into the open floor, and you have to rebound. They’re very good in the interior with Joakim, and Taj, Pau, those guys do a great job of rebounding, so we have to help clean the glass both offensively and defensively.”