Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo won't be available for Wednesday's Game 5 against the Boston Celtics but is making enough progress from a thumb injury that he may return before the Eastern Conference first-round series is over.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg didn't rule out the possibility of Rondo playing in Game 6 or Game 7. Rondo is no longer wearing a hard cast to protect the right thumb and a previous wrist injury.
"His wrist tendon has quieted down a little bit," Hoiberg told reporters Tuesday. "So just decided to remove the cast. He's still in a splint for his thumb."
Hoiberg said Isaiah Canaan will be the starting point guard in Game 5. It will be Canaan's first start of the entire season.
The Bulls took a 2-0 series lead behind Rondo's strong play. He fractured the thumb during Game 2, in which he nearly posted a triple-double with 11 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and also had five steals.
Chicago attempted to replace him with Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams in Games 3 and 4 but lost both games. When Grant and Carter-Williams were again ineffective early in Game 4, Canaan scored 13 points in 34 minutes.
Canaan wasn't even active for Game 3.
"It really tests your mental part of basketball," Canaan told reporters. "Our job is to play, whenever it may be. It may be the first 10 games of the season. It may be the last 10 games.
"Everybody on this team wants to play, and you can only have five out there. So whenever your name is called, you've got to be ready to go, no matter when it is."
The Bulls averaged 108.5 points with Rondo while winning two games in Boston. They averaged just 91 points without him while losing two home games in Chicago.