After taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls were dealt a huge blow before game three with an injury to Rajon Rondo who was an influential player in both wins.
With the way the regular season panned out for the Bulls and Rondo, it comes as a huge surprise that his loss will impact the team’s chances of closing out the series after he endured another controversial campaign.
Despite his problems, the former Celtic regained his starting role towards the end of the year and was a huge factor in Chicago taking a 2-0 lead with back-to-back wins in Boston.
Prior to last night’s game three at the United Center, it was revealed that the point guard would not play after he suffered a fractured thumb in the game two win at TD Garden.
His absence was clearly felt by the Bulls as the Celtics got back into the series with a resounding 104-87 win.
Rondo joined his teammates on the bench sporting a cast over his hand and although he didn’t take to the floor, in typical Rondo fashion he still managed to grab one of the main talking points of the game.
After Jae Crowder connected on a jumper for the Celtics right in front of the Bulls bench, he appeared to stare down his opponents as he made his way back up the floor.
Rondo clearly took exception to this and appeared to dangle a leg out in an apparent attempt to trip Crowder which had social media in a frenzy as you’d expect.
In his post-game interview, however, the four-time All-Star denied trying to trip the Celtics small forward despite the damning video and offered a brilliant explanation.
“When you tear an ACL, your legs get stiff on you every once in a while,” Rondo said. “I stretched my leg out, I also do that throughout the game. I guess he was so deep into our bench, it looked maybe whatever may have happened.”
The 31-year-old also confirmed that he expects to be out for at least a “couple of weeks” and his absence may swing the series back into Boston’s favour as a result.
The veteran guard was key in dictating the pace in the opening two games and ran the Bulls offence to perfection and their meagre points total without him in the lineup last night shows that they may struggle on that end of the floor for the remainder of the series.