MIAMI — Luol Deng is expected to be back with his teammates by tipoff Monday night. Whether he plays in Game 1 of the Bulls-Heat Eastern Conference semifinals remains questionable at best.
“He’s day-to-day,” coach Tom Thibodeau said late Saturday in New York.
Deng was released from Rush University Medical Center on Saturday afternoon and was tentatively scheduled to fly here Sunday night. The Bulls took Sunday off, gathering for a team meeting and film session at a downtown hotel.
Deng’s imminent travel will cap a harrowing four days for the two-time All-Star, who underwent a spinal tap for viral meningitis that came back negative but caused complications that forced further hospitilization. Sources told the Tribune Deng needed a “blood patch” to stop spinal fluid leakage that was causing Deng intense migrane headaches and disorientation.
The procedure involved injecting some of Deng’s own blood into the damaged area so that the spinal tap puncture could heal naturally, one source said.
Deng, who had used his Twitter account to defend people who said he missed Games 6 and 7 of the Nets’ series because of the flu, used the same social media forum following the Bulls’ closeout road victory.
“So (expletive) proud of my team, it’s been a rough 4 days for me but this makes everything better. See you guys in miami. #SeeRed”
According to two people who spoke to Deng, his headaches have mostly subsided but his back remains sore and he remains somewhat groggy. If Deng can’t start Game 1 against LeBron James, which is likely, Marco Belinelli is expected to get the nod.
Belinelli scored a career-playoff-high 24 points in the Game 7 victory over the Nets.