The Bulls weren’t going to get dragged into the conversation surrounding the expected losses the Cleveland Cavaliers suffered yesterday in their clinching win over the Boston Celtics, as they could lost
Kevin Love for the entire second round, it was announced late Monday afternoon.

And J.R. Smith was suspended for two games by the NBA, it was announced shortly after the news about Love came down, meaning he won’t be available until Game 3 of the next series, which could be at the United Center, assuming the Bulls take care of business against the Milwaukee Bucks.

As much as Joakim Noah isn’t a fan of anything Cleveland, he wasn’t doing cartwheels when asked about Love’s injury.

“Unfortunate. Very unfortunate,” Noah said. “You don’t want anybody getting hurt. You don’t wish that on nobody.”

In a statement, the Cavaliers said Love, after having his arm twisted by Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, had suffered an acute dislocation with torn labrum, certainly not an injury a player can come back from in a few days.

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League sources reached by early Monday said a normal tear takes 4-6 weeks but if an MRI showed no significant damage, a player would have to decide if he could deal with the pain.

Unfortunately for Love, the MRI revealed real damage and it changes the complexion of a potential Bulls-Cavs series, which could begin next weekend in Cleveland.


That was more than Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would say on the matter, flatly answering “no” when asked if he had any thoughts on Noah’s injury. He repeated the same deadpan remark when asked about the possibility of Smith missing one or more games in Round 2 after his whack on Celtics swingman Jae Crowder, which earned Smith an ejection.

“No. I’m just worried about Milwaukee,” Thibodeau said. “I leave that to you guys. It’s the playoffs. It’s important to stay disciplined, concentrate on what we have to do. Let’s face it: It’s easy to get distracted if you let yourself get thrown off course. So I really haven’t thought about it.”

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Nobody would’ve believed him if he said he didn’t watch the Cavs-Celtics game Sunday afternoon, so he didn’t dare fight that battle. Tempers flared before Smith’s altercation with Crowder, as Kendrick Perkins was in the middle of some rough play in the first half. Perkins is one of Thibodeau’s favorites from their days in Boston, where Thibodeau was an assistant to Doc Rivers, so he wasn’t surprised Perkins was an instigator.

“No. He’s a great competitor,” Thibodeau said. “When you put great competitors on the floor competing for the same thing, they’ll be some flare-ups.”

The Bulls and Bucks have had their share of emotional moments, resulting in flagrant fouls and technical fouls over the four games. Thibodeau wasn’t surprised at that breaking out in Boston.

“That’s usually playoff basketball,” Thibodeau said. “Boston played with desperation. Cleveland is tough. You’re going to have some flare-ups. With two teams competing for the same thing, that’s what happens.”