After taking a surprising 2-0 lead over the first-seeded Boston Celtics, the #Chicago Bulls are going to be without starting #Point Guard #Rajon Rondo most likely for the remainder of the series. The one-time champion has suffered a right thumb fracture that will not require surgery but will keep him out indefinitely. According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, the injury is considered “pretty serious,” and Rondo could be out for a long period, depending on how far the Bulls can go.
Bulls say Rajon Rondo has a right thumb fracture. He is out indefinitely.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 21, 2017
Rajon Rondo's importance
According to Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg, Rondo’s injury occurred during the third quarter of Game 2. He was able to play through it, but further tests confirmed a fracture in the right thumb. It will be “very difficult,” Hoiberg said about the injury.
This is a major blow for the Bulls as Rondo was having an incredible series against his former team, averaging 11.5 points, 10 assists, and 8.5 rebounds in two games and was a plus-14.5 per 100 possessions. Rondo was, after all, the x-factor in Chicago’s 111-97 Game 2 victory, putting up 11 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds and was a team-high plus-24. He essentially had his fingerprints all over the game.
Who will step up?
Luckily, the Bulls are stacked with point guards. They have Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant, Isaiah Canaan, and Cameron Payne in the reserve.
In Rondo’s absence, Grant is expected to earn the start at point guard, and Carter-Williams will most likely see an increase in play time as the backup. Meanwhile, Payne will be activated. However, Jimmy Butler will probably start running the offense a lot more.
Speaking of Butler, he sounded very disappointed to hear about Rondo’s thumb injury. “I wish we had him, but we don’t,” he said. When asked about having to run the offense, Butler said, “I’ll be alright.”
Grant will earn his first career playoffs start in his third ever playoffs game. There is a lot of pressure on the 24-year-old, who got some advice from Rondo. “Lock in and get it done,” Rondo told Grant. “My teammates have confidence in me,” Grant told reporters about earning the start.
Fortunately, the Bulls lead the series 2-0, with an excellent chance of making history by becoming the only eighth-seeded team to sweep a first-seeded team. With the next two games at the United Center, the Bulls are in control but not having Rondo will make an enormous difference. If the Bulls hang on, Rondo’s services will nonetheless be needed in the long run.