The new Chicago Bulls front office went all-in on reaching the playoffs this season when the team dealt 2018 lottery pick Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round draft picks to the Orlando Magic for All-Star center Nikola Vucevic at last month's trade deadline. Alas, Chicago is just 3-8 since acquiring Vucevic and simply reaching the Eastern Conference play-in tournament is now going to be tough with the news Thursday that fellow All-Star Zach LaVine will miss multiple games in COVID protocols. NBA oddsmakers were giving the Bulls +800 odds to make the postseason.
One thing to keep in mind when checking out NBA playoff odds this year is that the books mean the actual eight-team field in each conference and not simply reaching the play-in tournament, which will feature the seventh through 10th-place teams in the East and West for the final two spots in each conference.
Entering play Thursday, Chicago is 22-32 and 10th in the East, but just one game ahead of Toronto and Washington (big winners with this news). Getting to eighth in the East is almost out of the question as the Bulls are five games back of No. 8 Charlotte. Chicago was priced -1200 on the moneyline to miss the playoffs, but all odds have been taken down with this news.
LaVine made his first All-Star team this season and is averaging career highs in points (27.5), rebounds (5.1), assists (5.1), field-goal percentage (50.6) and three-point field-goal percentage (41.6). He is one of three players to average 25.0 points while shooting .500 from the field, .400 from three and .850 from the free throw line.
Whether LaVine tested positive for COVID or not or how long he might be out is not yet known, but multiple media sources are reporting it will be "several games." A positive test results requires a minimum 10-day absence. The Bulls called off practice Thursday because of health and safety protocol concerns.
Vucevic and LaVine are the only two dependable scorers the Bulls have. They are playing terrible as it is during a four-game skid, including horrible losses Sunday at Minnesota and as a 10-point home favorite on Wednesday vs. Orlando. The Magic get the Bulls' 2021 first-round pick unless it lands in the Top 4.
LaVine has missed just one game this season, and the Bulls lost that 121-116 in Phoenix on March 31. Chicago is next in action Friday at home vs. Memphis. Coby White likely will move into the starting lineup.
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