The Bulls are down 3 games to 2 and the news isn’t getting any better for them. Rajon Rondo, who was a major catalyst of the two victories, has been ruled out for game 6 as expected. Now it gets worse.
Now it appears that Jimmy Bulter is fighting through knee pain.
Hoiberg acknowledges Butler has some soreness in his knee. Calls Butler a "warrior." Butler will get treatment and will play in Game 6.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 27, 2017
The usually prolific Butler was particularly limited in the 4th quarter last night.
Bulls: Could a knee injury have slowed Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter against Celtics? | CSN Chicago
But he could only muster two shots and barely seemed to push off on his left foot—his lead foot, and it hampered what the Bulls could do late as he was their prime fourth-quarter performer.
He couldn't even go straight up on a jumper over the diminutive Isaiah Thomas without pump-faking, throwing off his rhythm. He wouldn't elaborate on the injury, although he said it happened during the second half of Game 4 on Sunday night when he collided with a Celtics player.
"I'm good. Everyone's a little nicked up; I'll be all right," Butler said in the locker room.
That isn’t to take anything away from Avery Bradley and the rest of the Celtics defense. They did their job on Butler and limited the rest of the Bulls for much of the night.
Clearly Coach Hoiberg is trying everything he can to bail out his sinking ship. But a combination of the Rondo injury and a mid-season trade that limited his options is proving too much to overcome thus far.
But in the 87th game — a pivotal Game 5 in a surprisingly tied series against the Boston Celtics — coach Fred Hoiberg tried lineups he’d never played together all year. Of the 18 lineups he played in Game 5, only three were among the top 250 he used during the regular season. For 26 minutes of a pivotal game, he played 15 lineups that had never seen the court for more than three minutes together during the season. Most had probably never played together at all.
Again, the Celtics should certainly get credit for clawing back from an 0-2 deficit, but it does help that the Bulls are hobbled, shorthanded, and regressing back to the mean that they had established all season long.