The return of Michael Carter-Williams is a big boost to the bench
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Jeff Teague was definitely in the minority on Monday.
He was one of the few people not real thrilled to see Michael Carter-Williams back in the Bulls rotation, after an injury (left knee/left wrist) sidelined the combo guard for almost two months.
Then again, the Pacers point guard was also one of the few that had to deal with Carter-Williams’ harassing style of defense throughout the evening.
Even in the first few minutes Carter-Williams checked into the game, he poked and prodded the ball from Teague, eventually knocking it free and diving to save it for the high-difficulty steal.
“Just positive energy,’’ Carter-Williams said of what he was looking to add off the bench.
The hope is he will bring more than that once he gets his wind back after the long lay-off.
“The big thing with Michael that we’ve missed is he’s a very versatile defensive player,’’ Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s another guy who can get into the paint and make plays for the team. Really after Jimmy [Butler], he’s probably our second-most effective perimeter defender. And he can guard three positions because of his size.
“So I’m excited about that and the pace he can bring our team. I thought he did a really nice job, especially right before he got hurt, when he was getting more comfortable with everything we were doing, as far as making the right read and right play. We can’t expect him to come back and be the difference maker right away. We understand there’s probably going to be some rust. But certainly everybody is excited to have him back on the floor.’’
What he also does is lengthen the bench for Hoiberg.
The inconsistencies of the second unit have been well documented all season long. On most nights it seems Hoiberg’s trust factor starts and ends with Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, and even those two have had some rough patches.
Carter-Williams gives Hoiberg a pure back-up point guard, and a defensive presence that the bench really lacks.
“We just got to continue to try and get guys out there, get them some consistency, and then go with that group,’’ Hoiberg said.
Carter-Williams was hoping he can just help that process along.
“We’ve taken a couple losses so I’m just trying to bring some energy and spark off the bench,’’ Carter-Williams said. “It’s always great when a guy is out and comes back and is able to positively affect the team just with his energy. I feel like that brings everybody’s spirits up.
“I’m going to try to take that lead and be positive.’’
One step back
Doug McDermott was still trying to get his rhythm back after he missed almost three weeks with a second concussion, and now a shin injury has the third-year player on the shelf.
McDermott suffered the injury in the loss to the Spurs on Sunday, and according to Hoiberg, it wasn’t deemed serious.
With Tuesday a treatment day, the hope was to have McDermott back by Wednesday.