The Chicago Bulls face elimination on April 27 in Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks and they will likely be without one of their best players.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine has entered health and safety protocols and is expected to miss Game 5 versus the Bucks.
LaVine has landed in health and safety protocols three times since last season. The two-time Slam Dunk champion will have to hope his teammates win Game 5 in Milwaukee. Otherwise, his 2021-22 season is over.
LaVine, who is playing in his first postseason, is averaging 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists against the Bucks while shooting 42.9% from the field, 37.5% from beyond the arc and 93.3% from the free-throw line.
Without LaVine, the Bulls will probably lose Game 5 to the Bucks, who were clicking on all cylinders in Games 3 and 4 in Chicago.
Bulls Got Blown out in Games 3 & 4
The Bulls got destroyed in Games 3 and 4 at the United Center. The Bucks won Game 3 by 30 points and Game 4 by 24.
“In the second quarter, they gave us a different look,” LaVine told the press after Game 4. “With AC (Alex Caruso) going out, I had to play a little bit more defacto point guard and get downhill. One guy isn’t going to beat them. They’re crowding the paint. Once I break that first line of defense, they’re sending guys into the lane and not letting me and DeMar (DeRozan) beat them. Trust the pass. Try to get guys open.”
LaVine becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. He averaged 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the regular season and made his second consecutive All-Star team. According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, LaVine is on track to receive a maximum contract offer this offseason.
However, LaVine may need a procedure on his left knee once the season ends and that could impact how much money the Bulls are willing to offer him.
LaVine Might Need to Seek Further Treatment in Summer
In February, LaVine had platelet-rich plasma therapy, a cortisone injection and fluid drained from his left knee. His knee felt better after visiting a knee specialist in Los Angeles, but LaVine told reporters during All-Star weekend that he might need to seek further treatment in the offseason.
“It will get me through the end of the season, and in the offseason, I’ll be able to take care of it and try to get myself 100 percent,” LaVine said. “The season is important enough for me personally. I’ll be able to go out there and play and do what I have to do still.”
The Bulls will be heavy underdogs in Game 5 against the Bucks without LaVine, who has averaged over 20.0 points four seasons in a row. If Chicago’s season ends on April 27, all the focus will shift to LaVine’s left knee and unrestricted free agency.
LaVine was acquired by the Bulls in the blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 22, 2017. He’s already third in franchise history in 3-point field goals and second in points per game.