Bulls’ Alex Caruso Expects To Play On Friday

APRIL 19, 10:30am: Caruso said that he expects to be able to play on Friday vs. Miami, per Jamal Collier of ESPN (Twitter link).

APRIL 18, 4:12pm: After undergoing further evaluation on his ankle, Caruso is experiencing reduced swelling and there’s increased optimism in his availability to play against the Heat on Friday in the play-in game, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Caruso is expected to be a game-time decision.

APRIL 18, 6:45am: Bulls guard Alex Caruso has a “significant” left ankle sprain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the injury casts doubt on Caruso’s availability for Friday’s do-or-die play-in game in Miami.

Caruso missed games on April 7 and April 12 due to what the Bulls referred to on the injury report as a left ankle contusion. The team indicated after Wednesday’s win over Atlanta that his latest injury is a re-aggravation of an earlier injury, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

The injury occurred when Andre Drummond stepped on Caruso’s right foot early in the second quarter (Twitter video link), sending him to the floor. According to Jamal Collier of ESPN, Caruso said that he aggravated his left foot issue while trying to keep his balance on that play. The veteran guard limped to the bench, then checked back into the game a few minutes later before eventually exiting for good until early in the third quarter.

“I do until I can’t,” Caruso said after the game when asked if he expects to play on Friday. “We’ll see how it goes the next couple days, but my mindset would be to play until my body tells me I can’t.”

Caruso is the Bulls’ top perimeter defender and helps balance a more offensive-minded starting lineup, so it would be a major loss if he’s unable to suit up on Friday. In that scenario, the team would likely have to count on another big offensive game like the one it got on Wednesday — Chicago’s four starters besides Caruso combined to score 107 of the club’s 131 points against Atlanta, with Coby White‘s career-high 42 leading the way.

As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes, White’s career high won’t technically go into the record books, which don’t count play-in performances, but White said he’s “definitely counting it.” Head coach Billy Donovan praised the Most Improved Player candidate after the win for his all-around contributions, not just his 42 points.

“He did a good job playing aggressively, took his threes when they were there. And he made a lot of good passes to guys. I thought he played a really complete game,” Donovan said. “I know the number 42 is a huge game and really phenomenal. But I thought he played a really complete game. I thought he defended. I thought he assisted, got downhill, made the game easy for guys.”

The Bulls are already missing Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, and Onuralp Bitim due to season-ending injuries, so if they have to play without Caruso on Friday, they’ll lean more heavily on White and the rest of their healthy rotation players to try to keep their season alive.

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