Central Notes: LaVine, Sexton, Pacers Defense, Green

Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine has cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and could be back on the floor as early as Thursday against the Hornets, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I think he’s excited to be back playing,” Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said of the All-Star guard. “I think for him getting in the gym [upon being cleared] was good.”

LaVine’s return may prove to be too little, too late for the struggling Bulls. Chicago has gone 4-7 without him. Sporting a 26-39 record, the Bulls are currently 4.5 games behind the ninth-seeded Pacers, four games behind the tenth-seeded Wizards and a half-game back of the No. 11-seeded Raptors. The team has eight contests left to play.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton is aware of critical chirps from his detractors, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Fedor notes that Sexton wants to address his critics with his play. “They feel like I’m not doing good at something, I’m going to make sure I prove them wrong,” Sexton said. “They say I can’t be a point guard. Now these next stretch of games I’m going to go out there and show them I can do both — run the team and score the ball as well, and be efficient with it. I pretty much just take the criticism and run with it, and just have them look crazy down the stretch.”
  • The defensively-challenged Pacers are certainly missing their anchor on that end of the floor, injured center Myles Turner, but also the tactical maneuvering of former head coach Nate McMillan and assistant coach Dan Burke, opines Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star.
  • Recently-acquired Bulls wing Javonte Green showed flashes of promise in what was ultimately a 106-94 losing effort against the Sixers on Monday. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic wonders if Green could be a potential long-term rotational addition for Chicago.
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