After their latest loss to the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls drop to 3-4 since Zach LaVine was entered into the league’s heath and safety protocol. And a timely return is looking less and less likely.
Now tied with the Toronto Raptors for the 11th seed in the East, the Windy City is bracing for it’s eighth-straight season without hosting playoff basketball.
LaVine may not be the answer to all of the Bulls problems, but at least with him on the floor, you’re able to evaluate the roster as a whole.
It’s starting to feel like Chicago may not get a chance to do so, with only 12 games remaining.
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When’s Zach LaVine Coming Back?
Prior to Saturday night’s latest blunder of a loss, head coach Billy Donovan spoke to reporters (via NBC Sports), and was asked about a potential timeline for Zach LaVine’s return the floor.
He was unable to provide one, simply reiterating that the guard remains in quarantine as a part of the league’s protocol:
He’s still in the protocol with the NBA. They’re working with medical. I think there’s probably some things he’s going to have to continually go through. . . . In terms of a timeline, I just don’t have one.
Donovan didn’t bother to discount what LaVine’s going through in quarantine, especially as an NBA player who, on a nightly basis, is constantly surrounded by his teammates, the coaching staff, and fans:
I think he’s holding tight. The biggest things is the isolation part of it is really challenging for anybody. He’s by himself, and you’re away from the team, and I think the camaraderie of teammates and being around guys you’re playing with on a nightly basis and travelling with, and then you’re separated, it’s a lot. It’s kind of like it all of a sudden comes to a stop.
The Bulls’ head coach also noted an important fact, in that no player’s experience inside the league protocol is the same:
It’s unfortunate that he can’t be, but different players got to go through the protocol and some guys are out longer than others. So I think with him we’re just waiting to get more understanding from the league in terms of the next steps that he’ll have to take.
Donovan did rule LaVine out for the remainder of this road trip, meaning the soonest he would be back is Friday against Milwaukee.
That also means that when the All-Star guard returns, the Bulls will have played at least eight games without him, and they’ll have no more than 10 games remaining on the 2020-2021 docket.
It will be interesting to see how they manage his return, if the Chicago Bulls are firmly out of the playoff picture.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their loss to the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls drop to 25-35.
That makes them tied with the Toronto Raptors for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at three percent.
That’s good for the worst odds among teams with a greater than one percent chance.
The website’s forecast heavily favors Toronto to make the postseason, with a 14 percent chance.
Elsewhere, Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the fifth-toughest in the entire NBA.
So the odds are stacked against the Chicago Bulls, who’ve managed a .500 record without one of their two All-Stars available.
12 games to go.
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