Bulls' Zach LaVine enters health and safety protocols ahead of make-or-break Game 5

Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine entered the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday, throwing his status for Game 5 in jeopardy.

LaVine will not travel with the team today ahead of an elimination game Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Coach Billy Donovan said LaVine wasn’t feeling great. Donovan was informed as the team was getting ready to practice that his player was entering protocols.

LaVine is averaging 19 points per game in the series, which finds the Bulls sitting at a 3-1 deficit.


The Bulls have dropped two straight to the defending NBA champions and could also be without guard Alex Caruso who is in the league's concussion protocol.

The Bucks won the past two games in Chicago by a combined 54 points, and the Bucks did it without Khris Middleton, who is out with a left knee injury.

LaVine, meanwhile, has been in and out of the lineup for Chicago the past few months because of a sore left knee. Now, he’s in the health and safety protocols for the third time in a year: He tested positive for the coronavirus last April and again in December.

LaVine will continue to be tested ahead of Wednesday night's game, the team said.

"We’ve kind of dealt with this all year long," Donovan said. "Whether it’s been injury and/or COVID, we’ve had guys in and out. I think a lot of times our mentality has been next guy up. Guys have done a pretty good job handling that. Any time you lose a player like Zach LaVine, there’s no question it impacts your team just as Middleton impacts their team."

"It’s frustrating," said DeMar DeRozan, who talked to LaVine on Tuesday morning. "I can’t even imagine how he feels. But the most important part now is making sure he comes out of that thing feeling healthy."

The Bulls finished sixth in the Eastern Conference at 46-36 after spending part of the season at the top. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and ended a run of four straight losing seasons.

Associated Press contributed to this report.