Jerian Grant needs to step up or step out of the way in Game 4

SHARE Jerian Grant needs to step up or step out of the way in Game 4

Point guard Jerian Grant knows he has to be better in Game  4.

If not, there could be huge ramifications for the rest of the postseason and beyond.

With Rajon Rondo (fractured right thumb) likely sidelined for the rest of the series against the Celtics, Grant made his first start Friday and did not impress.

In a little more than 15 minutes, Grant scored six points, shot 2-for-5 from the field, had no assists and turned the ball over four times.

“I’m definitely disappointed,’’ Grant said after watching film Saturday morning. “We lost, first of all, and I didn’t play well. I didn’t affect the game the way I should have.’’

As of Saturday afternoon, Grant was expecting to get a second chance.

Grant hadn’t heard if there would be any changes in the starting lineup, but he also knew the leash would be short, especially with Jimmy Butler’s ability to play point guard when needed.

“I’ve got to take care of the ball,’’ Grant said. “I had some careless turnovers.

‘‘I have to push the pace. I didn’t play with a whole lot of energy, so I feel that starts with me.’’

The Bulls have spent the season looking for their “point guard of the future,’’ even after they signed Rondo, 31, to a two-year deal.

First, it was Grant. Then during training camp, they traded for Michael Carter-Williams. Finally, at the trade deadline, they acquired Cameron Payne from the Thunder. But when push came to shove and the Bulls needed wins to make the playoffs, Rondo came to the rescue.

The Bulls still have a big decision to make on Rondo this summer, opting out of his deal and paying him a guaranteed $3 million to go elsewhere or giving Rondo $13.4 million to stick around one more season.

A strong performance from Grant would at least signal to the organization that it has an option.

“Yeah, we’re confident in Jerian,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said.

“His teammates are confident in him, so it’s just about going out there and having something positive happen out of the gate. That always helps.’’

Iron man

Dwyane Wade has played in 169 playoff games.

On paper, that’s just over two extra regular seasons of basketball, but Wade said you can toss that paper in the garbage.

The high intensity of postseason basketball increases that number well beyond 169, especially with the added minutes and the all-out mentality that prevails.

“For sure, [it takes more of a toll],’’ Wade said. “No question. If you look at the number and say, ‘I’ve played 160-some, and that’s two seasons,’ you can double that with the playoffs for so many guys.

“When it’s all said and done, you want your body to feel like you have played extra seasons because you’ve been in the playoffs. You were able to experience the Finals and all those things.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.



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