Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is unlikely to play in Game 3 of his team’s second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, but at the very least he seems to finally be getting healthy.
Deng has been suffering through a bout with the flu that got so bad he was given a spinal tap to detect spinal meningitis (it came back negative). He has missed the last four games, mostly as a result of complications from the spinal tap.
Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that Deng has lost a whopping 15 pounds since the start of his illness and he claims he was “really scared” by how his body reacted. The 28-year-old is reportedly still very weak and hasn’t been able to do much on the court.
The Bulls dropped Game 2 of their series with the Heat 115-78, after getting a 93-86 win in Game 1. Without Deng in the lineup, Jimmy Butler has stepped up and taken on a huge role for Chicago.
As of now it looks like the earliest Deng could return would be for Game 4 on Monday, but even that isn’t a guarantee. In fact, there’s a chance he may not play at all in the series.
The aftermath of a spinal tap is no joke if the puncture hole (the size of a needle head) doesn’t heal correctly. That is more than likely what happened to Deng. Some fans have speculated that he’s just missing time as the result of the flu, but the fact that he had “complications from a spinal tap” proves that this is likely far more serious.
If the puncture hole from a spinal tap doesn’t heal properly, spinal fluid can leak from the opening which causes all sorts of problems (as you would expect). It can take weeks to recover from something like that.
The Bulls need Deng if they want to beat the Heat in a best of seven series. But they also don’t want him to come back unless he’s fully healthy.
Deng is in his ninth year in the NBA, and he averaged 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists this season.