Coming off one of his best games of the season, Joakim Noah was fired up about a special guest who is planning to attend tonight's game 5 against Indiana.
"I've got my grandfather coming all the way from Africa to see me play," Noah said. "He's never seen me play an NBA game, so that's really exciting."
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Specifically, Zacharie Noah is traveling from his home in Cameroon to watch the Bulls play the Pacers.
He's a former professional soccer player and the father of former French Open tennis champ Yannick Noah.
"He's 72, but still in great shape and always ready to party," Joakim said of his grandfather. "I haven't seen him since last summer. I try to go back to Cameroon every year.
"He's never seen the (United Center). They don't have things like that in Cameroon. They have soccer, but not the UC. He doesn't know anything (about basketball). Sometimes it's about feeling the atmosphere."
Noah led the Bulls with 21 points and 14 rebounds in Saturday's Game 4 loss. It was his highest scoring game since returning from a thumb injury on Feb. 23.
Pacers a confident bunch:
Pacers coach Frank Vogel told reporters in Indianapolis he ran his team through more fourth quarter pressure situations Monday.
The Bulls rallied from 16 points down with less than five minutes remaining to get as close as 1 in the final 20 seconds.
"We concentrated more on the fourth quarter today than we have on other days," Vogel said.
"We know how to execute. A lot of times getting over the hump and getting that one time where they're making a run and you have that confidence where, 'Yeah, we're going to hold them off.' That goes a long way.
"We're a confident bunch. We really feel like, 'Why not us?' the series could very easily be 3-1 in our favor. We know we have confidence playing in their building. We played two really good games there before and we're going to and to win Game 5."
Setting the trap:
Don't expect the Bulls to do more pressing and trapping of the Pacers in Game 5, even though it worked well in the final minutes of Saturday's loss.
"We're not going to change our defense," Thibodeau said at the Berto Center. "We know who we are. I'd like to finish better on the break that we did. That's something we can improve upon. The more we can make them miss, the more we can get into the open floor."
Indiana coach Frank Vogel isn't concerned about more Bulls pressure defense, either.
"No, that's not their scheme. They just did it because they were down so big so late," he said.
"If they're down by double digits in the last three minutes, then yeah, they'll come and trap us again. But I don't think they'll do that throughout the game."
A special Bulls license plate will be unveiled this morning at the James R. Thompson Center. The cost to get a Bulls plate for a currently titled vehicle is $69 and $25 of that will go into a fund to support public schools throughout the state. … There was no official word Monday on possible award presentations for Tom Thibodeau (coach of the year) or Derrick Rose (MVP).