Bulls say Lebron James, Kyrie Irving keep Cavs potent despite loss of Kevin Love

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There has been plenty of conversation about Cleveland not having Kevin Love.

The Bulls, though, are focused on who the Cavaliers do have—especially Lebron James and Kyrie Irving.

“When you look at what LeBron has done–four straight trips to the Finals, two championships–he brings a lot to that team,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice on Saturday. “Kyrie is a young superstar. The only reason he hasn’t been in big games [is] he hasn’t been around long enough. His USA [international] experience–there was a lot of pressure on him in those games. He’s a superstar. When you have two players like that, that lifts everyone up.’’

In Love’s absence, big men such as 7-1, 250-pound Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and veteran Kendrick Perkins could have bigger roles.

“When you have two players like [James and Irving],’’ Thibs said, “that lifts everyone up. They’ve got a lot of other guys, too. Perkins has been around been in a lot of big games.Mozgov, Thompson, those guys are tough competitors.’’

The other likely scenario is that the Cavs will give the Bulls some small-lineup looks. The versatility of a premier player like James complicates those altered lineups.

Not having Love, Bulls forward Taj Gibson, “changes a lot. But at the same time, other guys are going to shine. They’ve got a lot of guys that are real educated in playoff basketball. We’ve got to be ready for them.’’

NOTES:

–The Bulls are healthy, for a change, as they prepare for Game 1 of their Eastn Conference semi-final series at Cleveland on Monday.

“Everyone’s good,’’ Thibodeau said. “Jo [Noah] is a little under the weather. But he did most of practice. Just sick.’’

–Mike Dunleavy will not be suspended as a result of some physical play in the Game 6 at Milwaukee. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo received a one-game suspension to start next season for shoving Dunleavy. Antetokounmpo got ejected for the play.

Dunleavy’s shot to Michael Carter-Williams, which was not whistled during the game, was upgraded to a flagrant-one foul.

“I’m not surprised,’’ Dunleavy said “I saw the replay. There was some contact above the neck. With those situations, that’s what it is nowadays.’’


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