Reminder: the old-school is bad and old for a reason
Tonight’s rescheduled game in Toronto has created an old-school, 4-games-in-5-nights stretch. With Zach LaVine questionable, would not be surprised to see him or even Nikola Vucevic get one night off like Bulls gave DeMar DeRozan recently. DeRozan acknowledged how much it helped.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 3, 2022
The opening night of this 4-in-5 stretch arguably was a worst-case scenario: the Bulls were forced into an overtime game they ultimately lost. DeRozan played 45 minutes, Vucevic 39, and Zach LaVine had 42 minutes with a bad back:
After watching him twist every which way and wince his way through his search for that elusive sweet spot, a reporter suggested to LaVine halfway through his four-minute postgame interview that he appeared uncomfortable even while sitting.
“Yeah, it hurts,” he said. “That’s what happens when you play a 42-minute game with back spasms.”
Yet even after his highlight plays, LaVine repeatedly jogged back on defense gingerly. His 10 field-goal attempts matched the fewest he’s taken this season when playing a full game.
“I think he’s playing through it,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
And a couple hours before gametime (and after I wrote much of this), indeed LaVine has been ruled out for this game.
Luckily this game is against the Indiana Pacers, who have a ton of people out and were not nearly as good as the Bulls when both teams were fully healthy in the first place. The Pacers are one of the few true sure-to-be-sellers, a.k.a. feelin’ a bit tank-y, a.k.a. this is a game the Bulls have to win, even given the rest and location disadvantage.
The W is what’s important, as the Bulls have to try to at least tread water while they wait for reinforcements. As you all know, the Bulls are still in first but losing home-court advantage is only 1.5 games back, and being forced into the play-in is only 4.5 games back.
Coby White is also questionable with a listed abductor/groin injury and is a game-time decision.
Full list for the Pacers:
Questionable: Bitadze, Brissett
Out: Sabonis, Turner, Brogdon, Warren, McConnell, Jackson
Game Time: 6pm central, NBC Sports Chicago