Bulls

Rajon Rondo return seems possible for Game 5

Rajon Rondo return seems possible for Game 5

Calling a Rajon Rondo return likely would be a bit strong, but it’s certainly become a possibility in the last 24 hours as the Bulls traveled to Boston before Game 5 of their first-round series against the Celtics.

Rondo participated in Tuesday morning’s practice before the team departed to Boston, going through five-on-five scrimmages to test his broken right thumb he suffered in Game 2 in Boston.

Multiple sources confirmed to CSNChicago.com Rondo has been making progress with the aim to get back on the floor sooner rather than later, but the probability of a Game 5 return hasn’t been determined yet. A report from ESPN stated Rondo staged a private workout in Boston to further test the thumb.

One source described it as Rondo playing with one hand in practice, which would in theory make him an easy target for the Celtics if he returns, considering his right hand is his dominant one.

Most have said it's too early to call while one source tells CSNChicago.com that “If he can play he will," while the fact the Bulls haven’t released an injury report has added to the intrigue of an already wild playoff series.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said before practice that Rondo is out “as far as we know right now," a statement that certainly seems intentionally ambiguous in hindsight.

If he returned it would be a remarkable turnaround considering one of Rondo’s teammates called his thumb injury the "worst I’ve ever seen in my career," leading to cautious words from Hoiberg.

“This is honestly the first time he has touched a basketball with that right hand. We’ll see how it goes. He’s going to continue to condition and do everything he can,” Hoiberg said. “Just watching him wince a little bit when the ball was coming to him makes me think it’s a longshot. But if there’s anybody who can do it and will try to fight through it, it’s Rondo because of the competitor he is.”

Rondo said he couldn’t grip a fork with his right hand, let alone a basketball when he spoke to the media this weekend, and the official diagnosis stated he would be evaluated between 7-10 days, pushing things right between Games 6 and 7, if it gets to a decisive seventh game in Boston.

Hoiberg plans to start Isaiah Canaan at point guard, as the Bulls have lost the last two games after jumping out to a surprising 2-0 lead, mostly on the strength of Rondo’s leadership.

Rondo was seen shooting with his left hand before practice began and had a light brace surrounding his right hand. He missed a handful of games late in the regular season with a right wrist injury, so he’s not just nursing one serious injury but a moderate one as well.

“He’s our floor general out there,” Jimmy Butler said. “He knows everything, knows every matchup, every position, and he’s still helping over there from the bench, but we really want him healthy and out there for us.”

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.