Alex Caruso’s latest injury is going to kill Bulls’ chemistry heading into playoffs

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls were rolled by Miami Heat at home, 127-109, on Saturday night. The same troubling trends from throughout the last six weeks were on display; Chicago couldn’t defend the perimeter, the role players were missing in action, and the team couldn’t rally through Miami’s best punch.

To add insult to injury — literally — Alex Caruso had to exit the game early due to back spasms. Head coach Billy Donovan said that Caruso asked to come out in the third quarter and is cautious about his health moving forward.

“It’s a problem,” Donovan said following the loss. “It’s nothing long term. He is dealing with some spasms. “He’s hobbled. He’s going to give everything he has. We’re not worried of it leading into something bigger. It’s just he’s managing it right now, and to be quite honest he’s just not right.”

Though Caruso will play Tuesday night against the Bucks, he’s already had limitations following his return from wrist surgery. This will only further complicate matters.

Alex Caruso’s health is becoming a problem for the Chicago Bulls.

Donovan noted that he will monitor the situation and likely limit Caruso’s minutes as the regular season comes to a close. He started Caruso on Saturday but only played him 22 minutes — the fewest he’s played in a single game since Dec. 20. Moving forward, Donovan said that he will play Caruso 28 minutes or less.

Donovan didn’t close the door on potentially resting Caruso in one or two games during the final stretch — something that can have a negative affect on the team’s already shaky chemistry.

Chicago has suffered from injuries throughout the season and has been unable to build any real chemistry after adding seven new players to the roster. The lack of chemistry has been glaring in their games against elite teams, against whom they’re 2-18.

Caruso, still building chemistry with the stars and other role players, has naturally fit with the team as a primary ball handler in the second unit and off guard with the stars.

The biggest issue has been the team’s defense, something Caruso has been a mini band-aid for. The duo of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan have never been known to be lockdown defenders and are living up to that reputation this season. The Bulls’ poor perimeter defense leaves the team in a scramble. Caruso is one of the three Bulls players who can excel in a scramble, with Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams being the other two.

Without Caruso, the Bulls will have to depend on worse defenders and playmakers to make key contributions in the most important stretch of the season and possibly into the playoffs. With the Bulls already struggling to beat quality teams, not being able to fine-tune things and instead asking struggling players to step up during the biggest games of the year is a version of Russian Roulette that Chicago really can’t be playing at this juncture.

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