Jimmy Butler is all for more confrontations in series with Boston

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rondo4.jpg

A lot of people pleaded the fifth Saturday.

Maybe Rajon Rondo stuck his leg out to trip Celtics forward Jae Crowder. Then again, maybe he didn’t.

Even after watching film, coach Fred Hoiberg said he wasn’t aware of the play from the first quarter of Game 3 on Friday.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,’’ Hoiberg said. “I honestly didn’t even see it.’’

Most of the Bulls took the same tack.

“No,’’ Jimmy Butler said. “I don’t [go] on the internet.’’

If Butler and Hoiberg ever check the video, they’ll see Crowder make a shot and loop toward the Bulls’ bench to let them know about it. Rondo, in street clothes because of a fractured right thumb, appears to stretch his leg out to obstruct Crowder’s unnecessary fly-by.

Rondo was asked about the incident after the game and left the door open for interpretation.

“When you tear an ACL, your leg gets stiff on you once in a while,’’ Rondo said straight-faced. “I stretched my leg out.’’

In Game 2, Rondo had been yelling up and down the court that the Celtics had quit.

It was mental warfare from one of the league’s finest practitioners, who was trying to make an impact even when unable to play. It’s an attitude Butler said the team needs to embrace moving forward.

“Rondo has a problem, first off,’’ Butler said with a smile. “That’s just ’Do for you. He’s been

through this countless times. He’s won. He knows what he’s doing. I just think, overall, we have to take his edge, especially mentally — older guys, younger guys, everybody. We have to think the game like he thinks it, study it the way he studies it. Take note and take after him because he does everything the right way.’’

If that means making the series a bit feistier, Butler is all in.

“I like that type of stuff,’’ Butler said. “We all know that. I like confrontation, stuff like that. Makes me smile. Gets me going and everybody else. I’m excited for what’s next. I woke up smiling [Saturday] morning. I don’t like to lose. But I’m fortunate enough to wake up and still be able to play this game.’’

But is there enough time to get all the Bulls to take that Rondo edge, that Rondo approach, and make it work for them on the court?

“I hope so,’’ Butler said. “I can’t say yes. I can’t say no. I guess we’ll find out Sunday in Game 4.’’

The Bulls’ starting lineup also seemed to be up in the air.

Jerian Grant was less than effective in his first playoff start for Rondo, and Michael Carter-Williams did little to help the offensive cause.

Hoiberg appeared to be leaning toward keeping the status quo with Rondo out, but he entertained the idea of a jumbo starting backcourt that would have Butler at the point, Dwyane Wade at shooting guard and rookie Paul Zipser at the 3.

That would at least give 5-9 guard Isaiah Thomas some matchup problems when the Bulls have the ball.

“Potentially, but we might start the same way, as well,’’ Hoiberg said. “We’re going to get through practice before making that final decision.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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