Cubs

Bulls will 'be ready' for Sixers on Saturday

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Bulls will 'be ready' for Sixers on Saturday

The Bulls wrapped up the No. 1 overall seed throughout the playoffs and will face the Philadelphia 76ers to start the postseason on Saturday.

Tom Thibodeau's message was clear in his postgame speech after Wednesday nights win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Be ready, be ready, proclaimed Tom Thibodeau. When the ball goes up, be ready, be ready...Tomorrow, I want to have a great day in practice. Great focus, great concentration.

Its unusual and we knew this is how it would be, basically, the playoffs are a continuation of the regular season. Youre looking at one day for prep and then youre playing. There wasnt going to be a big break in between, so I think it was important to stay in rhythm and also try to be as healthy as possible.

Theres been some perceived bulletin board material in the news in the last 48 hours regarding Chicago native and Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner's preference on matching up against the Bulls rather than the Miami Heat, who defeated them in five games in the first round in last seasons playoffs.

Thibodeau shot down a chance to respond to Turners comments which Turner later said the full point of his statements was not included in the original report and so did most of the players.

I love it, said a joyful Richard Hamilton when hearing about Turners comments. You just have to give them what they asked for. Its going to be a challenge for us and for them. We just feel if we stick to our gameplan and the way we want to play, good things are going to happen for us.

The Bulls won the season series between the two teams 2-1, but thats out the window as they know Philadelphia does pose some problems for them.

Theyre a team, said Carlos Boozer. They dont have that one guy that they go to thats going to take 25 shots. They have a bunch of guys that can give you 15 points and we have to do a good job. Theyre deep, play well together, good chemistry and theyre a fast team. They get a lot of steals and they get out in transition. They pose a challenge for us but we look forward to it.

Despite many observers concerns, the Bulls arent shying away from a physical series either.

Thats really how playoff basketball is, said Thibodeau. We can play fast, slow and a lot of different ways. I think in the playoffs, you win a lot of different ways. You have to find ways to win. Im sure it will be a hard-fought contest.

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Before the Cubs hosted the San Francisco Giants on Day 2 of American Legion Week, Willson Contreras was out in left field running and working out his injured right hamstring.

The All-Star catcher hit the injured list earlier this month after hitting a line drive to the gap against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

That was two-and-a-half weeks ago and the Cubs initially tabbed the Grade-2 hamstring strain as a roughly four-week timeline. But team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday Contreras is not nearing a rehab stint.

"He's in what our trainers are calling the aggressive strengthening phase of his rehab, which is building up the hamstring strength now that he's gotten through the initial injury," Epstein said. "Always what comes with that is the strength deficit that you have to really be mindful of building back up so that you don't risk reinjuring it when you get back to full baseball activities. 

"You're gonna see him on the field a lot more over the next few days and hopefully soon he'll be progressing to baseball activities. He's not on the cusp of starting a rehab assignment or anything like that. He hasn't really progressed to baseball activities yet, so that will be the next step."

The minor-league season wraps up in the first couple days of September, so Contreras won't have much of an opportunity to get game at-bats and innings at catcher if he isn't able to head on a rehab stint soon.

But the Cubs won't rush it with one of their most important players. Contreras was hitting .275 with 19 homers, 57 RBI and an .890 OPS in 87 games before the injury.

In his absence, the Cubs have been pretty well covered with Victor Caratini and Jonathan Lucroy splitting duties behind the dish.

Lucroy - acquired Aug. 8 after being released by the Los Angeles Angels - is hitting .333 with a .798 OPS in 7 games and has impressed with his work as a game-caller and veteran presence. Caratini continues to put up quality at-bats while building on his breakout campaign.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Cubs' triumphant return home

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USA Today

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Cubs' triumphant return home

Luke Stuckmeyer and Fred Mitchell join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Doug Glanville joins the guys to discuss the Cubs' triumphant return home, Nicholas Castellanos and the importance of the starting rotation over the rest of the season.

11:00- Scott Podsednik drops by to talk about another dominant performance by Lucas Giolito. Could the Sox contend next season after taking a series from another division leader?

17:30- Tony Andracki joins Kap from Wrigley Field with the latest on Ben Zobrist's return and if Brandon Morrow's shutdown will have any impact on the Cubs' bullpen.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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