The Chicago Bulls were blown out by the Golden State Warriors last night after losing Zach LaVine to a knee injury in the first quarter.

Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine knee injury
Zach LaVine, shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls, is lucky he didn’t incur significant damage to his surgically-repaired left knee after a freak injury on Friday night. (Image: Getty)

LaVine exited the game after he suffered a left knee injury while hauling down a rebound. Back in 2017, LaVine tore the ACL in the same knee while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bulls and LaVine feared the worse, but an MRI revealed no serious damage to his ACL or MCL. He faded another ACL injury, and should be able to return to the lineup after some rest. LaVine is out indefinitely with a sprain and is expected to miss at least a week before he’s evaluated.

Next man up: Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu

LaVine has been a part of the Bulls’ one-two scoring punch along with DeMar DeRozan, who leads the team with 25.7 ppg. As the team’s second-best scorer, LaVine averages 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists.

Big man Nikola Vucevic is the team’s rim protector and best glass cleaner, who’s averaging 11.3 rebounds per game. Head coach Billy Donovan will rely on Vucevic (16 ppg)  to contribute more on offense and alleviate some of the burden on DeRozan.

“Without Zach, that should be all the motivation that we need to step up, play hard, play for one another,” said DeRozan. “It’s just another challenge that we got to face. We can’t complain about it. Can’t whine about it. Can’t look for no extra help. It’s on us.”

Without LaVine in the lineup for the next week or so, Cody White should step into the starting role. White led the Bulls in scoring with 20 points in the blowout loss to the Warriors. He’s a worthy addition to your fantasy basketball team if you need someone to fill in for LaVine.

Rookie Ayo Dosunmu, a local kid from Chicago who played for Illinois, should also see a bump in playing time. Dosunmu averages 6.3 points in 19.8 minutes per game off the bench this season. He had two spot starts this season when the team was decimated by a COVID outbreak.

Betting da Bulls

LaVine didn’t travel with the Bulls to Boston, where they meet the Celtics (21-22), who also will be playing on back-to-back nights. The Bulls are +6.5 underdogs in Beantown tonight.

The Bulls are on the road for three out of their next four games, which also include a showdown with the sizzling Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night in a nationally televised game. Next Friday, the Bulls head to Milwaukee for a showdown with Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

The Bulls (27-13) still retain the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve dropped two in a row and lost three out of their previous four games. The Miami Heat (27-15) have been on a tear and have moved into the #2 seed in the East, ahead of the Brooklyn Nets (26-15) and Milwaukee Bucks (27-17).

The Bulls aren’t a popular betting favorite to win the 2022 NBA championship. They’re listed as ninth on the NBA futures board, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. You can back the Bulls right now at +2200 odds to win the title.

The Bulls have been at the top of the standings for most of the season, yet the Bucks are still favorites to win the Central Division at -140 odds. The Bulls are +110 odds to dethrone the Bucks.