“It's always tough before the game. Once it starts, they're feeling it, too,” Joakim Noah said. “They bleed just like us.”

The All-Star center made that statement after playing nearly 39 minutes in Saturday afternoon’s 142-134 triple-overtime win over the Nets at the United Center, which gave the Bulls a 3-1 advantage in the first-round playoff series.

Noah was only supposed to play 25-30 minutes, due to his well-chronicled case of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but with the gravity of the situation, his minutes restriction apparently went out the window.

Although he was ailing, Noah produced 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots before fouling out in the early in the third and final extra session, but while he looked more spry than perhaps at any point in the series, he detailed how much he was ailing afterward.

“In the last month, I must’ve done 40 or 50 different treatments,” Noah explained. “I don’t know exactly what it is that has helped me. But it’s a little better. I’m still playing through pain, but it’s not even comparable to Game 1.

“I wasn't aware until after the game. I'm feeling it. I'm getting all the treatments possible. Compared to Game 1, it's so much better.”

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, not a man who is easily impressed, lauded Noah’s effort and revealed that he had an inkling that the charismatic center would be effective Saturday.