From sitting at the end of the Chicago Bulls‘ bench, to being named the starter in a pivotal playoff game. This is the last 48 hours of Bulls’ guard Isaiah Canaan. Will the Bulls’ experiment work or backfire? We will soon find out. A better question is, are the Chicago Bulls grasping at any signs of life after losing two home playoff games?
The answer to that inquiry is yes. Anything that the Chicago Bulls can do to regain control with a win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series, they must do. Turning to Isaiah Canaan provides proof of that.
Chicago Bulls’ head coach Fred Hoiberg has been searching for a competent point guard to replace the injured Rajon Rondo. Rondo is out indefinitely after suffering a fractured (courtesy of NBA.com) right thumb. A comeback in the series cannot be ruled out, though it is unlikely, as Rajon Rondo is reportedly out of his cast (courtesy of CBS Sports).
Jerian Grant received the starting nod for Game 3 and Game 4. He failed to make much of an impact for the Bulls in his two games as the starter. Grant had one assist and missed three shots in four minutes played. The most dubious stat was Jerian Grant having a plus-minus of -10. He was pulled from Game 4 early and never returned.
Michael Carter-Williams did not fare any better, picking up a foul quickly and failing to stay in front of Celtics’ star Isaiah Thomas. The lack of an impact from both Grant and Carter-Williams left the Bulls in need of some answers.
Looking for a spark, Coach Hoiberg gave seldom-used Isaiah Canaan. His tasks are to stay with Thomas, run the Bulls’ offense effectively, and make some shots. After shaking off some early jitters, Canaan went on to score 13 points and played solid defense. According to CSN Chicago, he will be rewarded with the Bulls’ starting job at point guard tomorrow night against the Celtics.
What the Bulls are hoping for is some positive momentum and perhaps steal a third game in Boston. Homecourt advantage has been nonexistent in the series thus far. Eventually, something has to give and the trend may cease unless the Bulls can receive some inspirational play on both ends of the floor from the point guard spot.
There are some distinct differences between Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant, and Michael Carter-Williams.
Grant has the size to be a great defender, and when he is playing with confidence, his shot falls. When the confidence wanes, Grant struggles in ever area. It almost seems as if he is trying too hard when he is in a game.
As for Michael Carter-Williams, injuries appear to have robbed him of his explosiveness. This is abundantly clear when he goes to the basket for layups. Opposing guards should not be able to block Carter-Williams’ shot, but they have denied the Bulls’ guard with regularity.
Another sign that his explosiveness is leaving was in Game 3 when the 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas was able to beat the 6-foot-6 guard to a jump ball. No one can say that the toss of the jump ball favored anyone. Isaiah Thomas simply out-jumped Michael Carter-Williams.
With Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams playing ineffective basketball in the wake of Rajon Rondo’s injury, the onus is now Isaiah Canaan.
Canaan does not the possess the height of either Grant, who is listed at 6-foot-4, or Carter-Williams. Canaan is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. During a hot shooting night, the Bulls’ scorer could be regarded as a poor man’s Isaiah Thomas. When he scores, he scores in bunches.
This could help the Bulls, but there are some legitimate reasons for concern, unfortunately.
Because Isaiah Canaan is only 6-foot-0, the Celtics are going to find ways to take advantage of his small stature. Canaan has a strong base, which would help the Bulls, but Coach Fred Hoiberg chose to keep glued to the bench and wearing a suit on several nights. Not having much experience can, and will be a hindrance at times. All of which can go away if Canaan gets off to a positive start.
The Chicago Bulls will trot out their third starting lineup in four games as they try to win a pivotal Game 5 against the Boston Celtics. It is Isaiah Canaan’s turn to get the Bulls’ offense back on track. Look for the Chicago Bulls to also play Denzel Valentine some meaningful minutes. Valentine could be the difference in the game.
[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]