Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks and a spicy ex-Sox player in Chicago
Two Brooklyn natives on the Bulls team look forward to opening the postseason with the Nets on Saturday night.
Taj Gibson said he will be all business going home and is still trying to get used to the brace on his ailing knee. At Friday’s practice, Noah admitted a reoccurrence of his foot injury and said he will not start and is likely unable to play. Now the work load at center will fall on Nazr Mohammed.
Coach Tom Thibodeau will almost have a full roster when this banged up crew opens the playoffs. Although the door hasn't been closed, Derrick Rose is still not expected to play.
With or without Rose, the Bulls have reasonable expectations to beat the Nets. They won three of the four regular season meetings. Noah and Gibson will be important to handle Nets center Brook Lopez.
The regular season and all the Bulls injuries allowed second year player Jimmy Butler to show his abilities. He has taken advantage of the opportunities and has given the Bulls a great option on the court. Butler is expected to continue as the team’s starting two-guard. The Bulls offense (which can be dreadful) will likely run through Carlos Boozer. He needs to get touches early and often to get his game going.
Bears meet and greet new coach
The Bears new head man Marc Trestman just finished three days of voluntary workouts. It was fast paced, with over 200 plays/concepts practiced. It was interesting watching Devin Hester only doing special team work, after yesterday’s practice he seemed to be fine with his concentrated role.
In six days, the NFL draft will begin and after a few days the Bears GM Phil Emery will collect some new players to add to the mix. This summer training camp will be extremely competitive for several starting jobs. Trestman would like the jobs locked when they break camp. Somehow I get the feeling there will be large, curious crowds this summer down in Bourbonnais.
Last night the new Bears coach found out he will make his NFL coaching debut September 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field. The Bears will have four prime time games and they end the regular season at home on December 29 against Green Bay. It has been nine years since the Bears have had such a transformation as a team. Every move they make and every game they play will be highly scrutinized.
Double feature for Blackhawks
Blackhawks fans have a double treat this weekend: Friday they host Nashville and Saturday face Phoenix at the United Center. With home ice advantage for the postseason in their back pocket, the Blackhawks can use these final games to tune-up for the playoffs.
What a pleasant dilemma for coach Joel Quenneville in net: Corey Crawford or Ray Emery? Both have been terrific this season and both are deserving of their starts, but the playoffs are usually where a coach goes with just one. Who would question what Coach Q has done this season? He has changed lines and mixed younger players with the veterans. There is a very strong belief that this team is on a course to hoist the Stanley Cup in June.
That’s right, June. Thanks to the lock out the hockey finale will be this summer in the middle of baseball season. Maybe not a bad idea after all.
Sox and Cubs
It has been a rough few weeks for baseball with rough weather and small crowds. But leave it to former White Sox player A.J. Pierzynski to make things lively. He returned to Chicago at Wrigley Field to face the Cubs this week.
Before the series opener, the Texas Ranger catcher sat down with the media and immediately noticed a change on a building on Sheffield: the Latin sign that says “Eamus Catuli” is back.
“It was my favorite sign. I am glad they put it back,” he said with his Dennis the Menace look.
He loved reminding the media crowd that it’s been 104 years since the Cubs won a World Series. The Cubs-Sox series won’t be the same without him.