NBA Playoffs 2021: Pacers' Myles Turner out with foot injury

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Rob Schaefer
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NBA play-in 2021: Turner out indefinitely with foot injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Eastern Conference play-in race, meet wrench. Potentially.

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner has a partial tear of the plantar plate in the big toe of his right foot and is out indefinitely, the team announced Monday.

Turner, the NBA's leading shot-blocker averaging 3.4 swats per game, had been forging an All-Defense caliber campaign for the Pacers, and marks another key loss for the East's current ninth seed. The Pacers are already without slick-scoring wing T.J. Warren for the remainder of the season due to a foot injury.

The Bulls, at 23-33, enter Monday's slate of games in possession of the 11th seed, trailing the Pacers by three games for ninth. The Toronto Raptors sit 10th, one game ahead of the Bulls in the win column at 24-34, while the Washington Wizards are tied by record with the Bulls in 12th. The Bulls own individual tiebreakers over all three teams, having already won each season series 2-1.

But the Bulls are dealing with availability concerns of their own. Zach LaVine has been enlisted in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocol since April 15 and remains out without a timetable to return, per head coach Billy Donovan. They're 4-9 since the trade deadline, slipping from 19-24 and in prime play-in position to a crowded scrum at the bottom of the picture.

Having just on Saturday snapped a five-game losing streak, the Bulls have lost control of their destiny. But with 16 games left on their regular-season slate in an unpredictable campaign, they're far from out of it.

"Any time you’re playing meaningful games, it’s always critical," Donovan said before Monday's game at the Boston Celtics. "I don’t think there’s a team in the league that starts the season or goes through the season that’s not trying to fight to play postseason. That’s obviously where you want to get to. That’s what our guys are fighting for, and there are a lot of other teams in the East that are fighting for it as well.

"Right now, although the season is not over, these games are incredibly meaningful. We’ve got to first take care of the regular season. When the regular season plays out, we’re going to know if we’ve done enough or not enough. But for me personally, getting into those moments and situations, especially with some younger guys who haven’t experienced it, is always helpful and productive."

Related: Theis prepares for 'special' reunion with old team, Celtics

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