Chicago Bulls guards Zac Lavin (health and safety protocol) and Alex Caruso (concession protocol) played against the Milwaukee Bucks for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
The Bulls had hoped the player’s health would be approved before their win-or-go home game in Milwaukee, but they brought down both defenders on Wednesday morning on their injury reports.
The Bucks are 3-1 up in the first round of the series. Only 13 teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 deficit and the Bulls’ potential comeback path becomes more difficult without their starting backcourt available.
Lavin entered the COVID-19 health and safety protocol just before team practice after waking up early Tuesday morning experiencing symptoms. This is the third time in the last 12 months and the second time this season he has landed in the league protocol.
Caruso entered into concession protocol after Javon Carter’s inadvertent punch in the face in late Sunday’s Game 4. Caruso left the game with a bloody nose and then began to show signs of burning.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan said in his Wednesday pregame availability that Caruso had “very significant headaches” and that Lavin was feeling “very ill.”
LaVine averaged 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists in four post-season games against the Bucks. While serving as the team’s defensive anchor, Caruso has averaged 6.3 points, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals in the series.
“It’s part of the game,” Bulls center Nikola Vusevic said after practice on Tuesday. “If you look at the entire NBA, I’m sure a lot of teams have gone through a lot of ups and downs and injuries and COVID stuff. So you just have to deal with it.
“At no time do we feel bad about ourselves or we feel bad about ourselves. That’s the way it is. It’s unfortunate, but mainly for the kids who want to be with us and compete and they can’t. Losing time. It’s mostly unfortunate for them. “We just want to get out there and compete. It’s a chance for someone else to do it.”