Bulls should expect a more aggressive LeBron James


Bulls should expect a more aggressive LeBron James

CLEVELAND — It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that either the long layoff hurt LeBron James or Chicago’s defense did in Game 1 on Monday, with the road team taking full advantage in stealing the series opener.

And the beauty of this delicate dance between two talented teams is James has a chance to respond, while the Bulls have a chance to prepare for the alterations James will try to make.

For one, anybody with a set of eyes can tell you James wasn’t his usual aggressive self. Jimmy Butler wasn’t backing down and he had a gang of teammates behind him ready to help, knowing not too many of James’ teammates could beat them.

“I have to be better,” James said.

[MORE: 3 unsung keys to the Bulls' Game 1 victory over the Cavs]

James’ 19 points weren’t enough, nor were his 22 shots. In his third opening-game series loss to the Chicago Bulls, their star, Derrick Rose, didn’t want to hear anything about the past. Rose has deflected bringing up the past in interviews leading into the series and took the same tone Tuesday after the Bulls’ film session.

“I hadn’t thought about it unless I’m being asked,” Rose said.

But when asked what he feels James is going through mentally, Rose offered a glimpse into James’ thinking.

“I think he’s…I really don’t know,” Rose said. “Being aggressive, I think he’s gonna try to dictate the whole game from both sides of the ball.”

“And we have to prepare for that because he can actually do that. There’s a couple things he can do but I don’t want to talk about it (laughs).”

James has publicly stated he’ll be more aggressive, and the Cavaliers have to strategically change plenty of things before Game 2 — most notably their deplorable pick-and-roll defense — but one has to wonder if a change in James’ attitude will be the biggest alteration.

But if James takes over, will that play right into the Bulls’ hands? Talk about a delicate dance the Bulls are walking, along with James. If James becomes super aggressive, what does that do to Kyrie Irving, a player who isn’t a natural facilitator?

[SHOP: Get the latest Bulls gear here]

Strategically, the Cavaliers could run more with their smallish lineup, but Cavaliers coach David Blatt could be overmatched here.

“They have a unique offense because of what LeBron brings to them,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Kyrie can handle the point. You can never let your guard down against them. They can score 10 points in less than a minute. They can play in a number of ways and you have to be ready for the different looks and hopefully we can do a good job getting our defense back and being set.”

Along with Iman Shumpert, who scored a surprising 22 points, those three were the only impactful men wearing home whites on Monday night. And the Bulls certainly appear to have struck a blow that could last longer than 48 minutes.

Rose was asked how the Cavaliers would play him any differently, but he could very well have been James speaking about what the Bulls do to him.

“Who knows? That’s the great thing about the playoffs,” Rose said. “Even if I’m not scoring or having a bad game you gotta figure things out. I can’t go into the game having that thought in my mind. Only having good thoughts.”

It’s certainly going to take more than good thoughts for James to overcome another complex puzzle, one which the Bulls are happy to change around rapidly every game this series.

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Miami Marlins center fielder Monte Harrison made a bit of history on Aug. 4, when he laced up for his first ever MLB game.

With his debut, he and older brother Shaq officially became just the sixth MLB-NBA brother duo in league history. The most recent? Klay and Trayce Thompson, the latter of which appeared in his last MLB game on June 20, 2018 for the White Sox. Chicago ties all around.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bulls news and analysis.

Shaq used his trademark brand of heart and hustle to work his way up from two 10-day contracts with the Phoenix Suns to a multi-year pact with the Bulls. Monte's path to the majors began in 2014 after the Milwaukee Brewers plucked him in the second round of the Amateur Draft from Lee's Summit West High School in Lee's Summit, Mo. He was jettisoned to Miami as part of the Christian Yelich trade in 2018. 

In 2019, Monte played 58 games between Miami's High-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .270/.351/.441 with 9 home runs, 24 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He's been known to flash some leather, too, and entered this season the club's tenth-ranked prospect.

Since his call-up, he's appeared in four contests (three starts) with the Marlins, and is just 1-for-10 at the plate with five strikeouts. But we'll forgive some early-career stumbles. His first big-league base-knock, which came on Thursday, was perfectly emblematic of what Bulls fans have come to expect from the Harrison household.

Yup. A cue-shot infield single. Exit velocity: 44.3 mph. Expected batting average: .190. But he beat it out. And followed it up with a stolen base. You can't script this stuff.

"I don’t know what my mother did, a lot of prayers, a lot of believing, and trust in us," Monte said after his debut on Tuesday, via Bob Nightengale. "We just worked our ass off.''

That much is evident.

RELATED: How Bulls’ Shaq Harrison impacts games, even with limited playing time


Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

With the NBA restarting with 22 of its 30 teams, there was buzz in early July of a second bubble coming to Chicago for the eight teams excluded to get in organized team activities and possibly scrimmages.

Now, it appears those talks have significantly slowed, if not stalled entirely.

The Athletic reported Tuesday that there is "significant doubt" the second bubble concept will come to fruition, but Friday, that bringing the "Delete Eight" teams into the Disney campus has been discussed. Any agreement — whether it be a full-on bubble or respective, in-market OTAs — would require stringent safety protocols and need to be agreed upon by the league and NBPA.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down the latest scuttlebut:

Well, the latest is, you really got only one shared goal between these eight teams and that is to get some kind of formal group activities authorized by the league and the players association.

How that plays out and the form that takes, there are different goals. There are some teams that wouldn't mind doing a bubble. There are other teams that would rather stay in their own practice facilities and not travel. There are other teams that want to do regional scrimmages against another team. And complicating this is that Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players association, is on record as saying: Unless there are the exact same safety protocols going on in Orlando for the second bubble, it's a non-starter for her.

The league's attention mostly has been in Orlando, obviously, and that was a signficant financial undertaking. So you'd also have to factor in that, what kind of financial undertaking would they commit to these eight teams. It did look like there was some positive momentum for, not a bubble, but for each team to be able to hold some sort of offseason training sessions, group sessions in their own facilities, like OTAs in the NFL.

And I don't think that's dead, but there's certainly not as much optimism as there was maybe a week, ten days ago for that. I mean, it's fluid, and there's nothing definitive yet, but you may be staring at that dreaded eight month window between formal group activities for these eight teams. 

In the episode, the crew also breaks down the week in NBA bubble action, talks Jim Boylen and more. Listen here or via the embedded player below: