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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls drives against Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center on October 22, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pelicans 128-112. (Photo : Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Chicago Bulls received terrible news on Thursday with star center Nikola Vucevic testing positive for COVID-19. He has now entered the league’s health and safety protocols and will miss multiple games as a result.
Vucevic to miss Bulls’ West Coast road trip
Vucevic’s positive diagnosis could not have come at a worse time for the Bulls as they are set to begin a five-game road trip on the West Coast. The two-time All-Star’s positive test means that he will be sidelined for a minimum of 10 days or until he submits two negative PCR tests in a 24-hour period.
Vucevic’s brush with COVID-19 comes just days after Joel Embiid tested positive for the deadly coronavirus. The two big men locked horns for two consecutive games last week, with Philadelphia and Chicago playing each other in a home-and-away set. Embiid dominated their last meeting at the United Center, scoring 30 points and 15 rebounds on Saturday night. He yielded a positive COVID-19 test on Monday morning.
The Sixers have struggled with Embiid sidelined, going 0-3 since their center entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. It would be interesting to see what effect Vucevic’s absence will have on the Bulls, who are off to their best start in years with an impressive 8-3 slate.
He has been a beast down low for the Bulls of late, registering double-doubles in five of Chicago’s last six games. Vucevic played a starring role in the Bulls’ last game against the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in their 117-107 victory.
He is averaging 13.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists through 11 games this season for the Bulls, who hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference alongside the Washington Wizards. With Vucevic unavailable for the next few games, the Bulls will likely turn to Tony Bradley to be their starting center.
Bulls, Warriors square off in battle of league’s best teams
Bradley and the rest of the Bulls will be tested immediately on their road trip as they will face the red-hot Golden State Warriors, who own the league’s best record with a remarkable 10-1 slate.
The Warriors have injury concerns as well ahead of this blockbuster matchup with Draymond Green suffering a right thigh contusion in Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Damion Lee also missed that game with left hip soreness. The Warriors listed both players as questionable for the game against the Bulls.
Friday’s game still promises to be a humdinger with both teams parading exceptional offensive talent. Steph Curry has surged ahead in the MVP race, averaging 27.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game this season. Curry, who recorded 50 points and 10 assists against Atlanta earlier this week, is shooting 43.4 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from deep.
The Bulls’ backcourt is formidable as well, with DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Lonzo Ball all averaging in double figures. Majority of the Bulls’ points this season have come from this trio and they are expected to carry the scoring cudgels even further with Vucevic out for the time being.
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