Chicago Bulls star Pau Gasol has been ruled out of Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday with a strained hamstring.
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Coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed the news ahead of tip-off on Sunday, with the Spaniard still sore after being forced to sit out the second half of Game 3 on Friday night.
Gasol had hoped to play through the injury last time out but wasn’t able to and scored just six points in 22 minutes before leaving in the third quarter and failed to return.
Having also missed Saturday’s walk-through with the rest of his teammates, it was decided that it was too much of a risk for him to play with the strain and Chicago would not want it to worsen over the coming days.
The Bulls lead the Cavaliers 2-1 heading into Sunday’s encounter, and so if the series goes on then they will hope to give their forward/center as much rest as possible in order to play some part further down the line.
It is expected that Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic will play increased minutes to make up for his absence, but it is still a huge blow for the Bulls as they look to take a commanding lead in the match-up.
Gasol is averaging 15.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in the playoffs, and was an ever-present part of the team throughout the regular season this year.
However, his absence will be noticeable on both ends of the court, with Chicago losing his presence in the paint and ability to crash the boards as well as space the floor to give them a crucial third scoring option behind Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.