By Cody Westerlund–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo got right to the point Friday night in discussing his fractured right thumb that’s now sidelined him from the playoffs.READ MORE: High Ranking Cook County Sheriff's Office Official Resigns Amid Complaints Of Inappropriate, Unsolicited Sexual Comments To Colleague
“It couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Rondo said.
Humming with two upset road wins over the top-seeded Celtics to start the series that were engineered by Rondo, the Bulls face one of their biggest challenges yet in a trying season. They need to replace Rondo, who’s been told by doctors that his thumb will need a couple weeks to heal after he injured it in Game 2 on Tuesday night at Boston.
“Things happen for a reason,” Rondo said after the Bulls fell 104-87 to the Celtics in Game 3 at the United Center in a game in which Chicago’s young point guards struggled. “It is what it is. I’m not sure how long I’ll be out. I plan on my body healing pretty quickly. The doctors told me a couple weeks, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Rondo injured himself on an inbounds pass in the third quarter of Game 2 on Tuesday when he “swiped up to make a play on the ball.” He went on to log 40-plus minutes in the game, in which he played to the final buzzer while recording 11 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and five steals. While he knew in the moment something was wrong, he kept playing, citing that “the adrenaline was crazy.”
The pain continued to plague Rondo into the off days Wednesday and Thursday. Rondo practiced Thursday without contact, then decided he needed to get an X-ray.READ MORE: Another Delay For Bid To Create Database For CPD Misconduct Files As Aldermen Question Cost, Frustrating City's Top Watchdog
“I knew something was wrong,” Rondo said. “My finger was blue.”
Rondo has a cast on his right hand, in part to also protect and immobilize a wrist injury that he dealt with late in the season. The thumb injury, not the wrist injury, is the sole trouble holding him back now, coach Fred Hoiberg said.
While Rondo’s expected to be out for the rest of the first round, he’ll be re-evaluated in seven to 10 days. Nine days from Friday would be a potential Game 7, for which Rondo left the door cracked ever so slightly for a return. He considers himself a fast healer.
“It depends on what I can tolerate,” Rondo said of a potential return in a Game 7, if needed. “I’ll check it every two days, see if I can pick up a ball. But right now, I can’t even use a fork with my thumb. I’m just going to take a couple days at a time, see how I feel and hopefully things get better.”
Teammate Dwyane Wade was a member of the Heat in 2011 when Rondo, then with the Celtics, suffered a dislocated left (non-shooting) elbow and returned to a playoff game after he was tangled up with Wade.
“He’s very tough,” Wade said. “Before this last injury, he had another injury he was dealing with with his hand. So obviously seeing him today in the cast and not on the floor, you know it’s something he really has to take care of. I definitely think he’s going to do everything in his power to get the opportunity to come back, if he can, but that’s not something we can look at and focus on. And behind the scenes, Rondo’s going to work his butt off, if he can, to get back on the basketball floor.”MORE NEWS: Expert Breaks Down The Seconds Before Adam Toledo Was Shot In Body Camera Video
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and covers the Bulls. He’s also the co-host of the @LockedOnBulls podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.