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Blackhawks and Cubbies and Bears, OH MY!

Even through the dog days of summer, the sports keep going and, as Sonny and Cher once said, the beat goes on. Even though we are in the off seasons of most sports, there is still a lot of news coming down the pipes about our favorite sports teams.

Hockey

Going for the Gold!

Going for the Gold!

The post-2013 season has the Blackhawks focusing on adjusting to a new roster and being recruited to represent their home countries at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Team Canada has recruited Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Corey Crawford. Team USA has brought Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad, and sharp-shooter Patrick Kane to their team. In 2010 it came down to Kane vs. Toews for the gold and America went home with the silver medal. With this many Blackhawks skating to Russia in 2014, Chicago hockey fans will find a lot to scream at their television about as it will be difficult to root against either team with so many revered players pitted against each other for Olympic Gold. Congratulations to all of the Blackhawks chosen for the 2014 Winter Olympic games!

THE REMATCH

THE REMATCH

Basketball

Comeback Kid

Boozer is not amused

The Bulls, and all of Chicago, are preparing for the much-awaited comeback of superstar Derrick Rose. His manager and brother, Reggie Rose, has been talking with the press about Rose’s recovery and says that Rose is ready to go. Reggie Rose says that he has “no concerns about [Derrick Rose] physically” and that taking a year off may have hurt the Bulls, but it was necessary for the longevity of his career. He believes “Derrick should probably be able to play fifteen to eighteen years,” so taking a year off was a means of making sure he was physically prepared to play basketball for the next two decades.

"Dude, this comeback had better not be a joke."

“Dude, this comeback had better not be a joke.”

The return of Rose is great news for Bulls fans, but sending Nate Robinson to the Denver Nuggets is definitely terrible news for Bulls fans as the heart of the 2013 playoffs is now someone we face instead of someone helping us block Lebron’s shots.

We're gonna miss you, buddy.

We’re gonna miss you, buddy.

So, with the return of Derrick Rose, the departure of Nate Robinson, and the shaky status of Luol Deng’s contract extension, what does the 2014 Chicago Bulls roster look like? The point guards look sharp with Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Marquis Teague hitting the court. Rose’s return, if successful, will be a major boost for the Bulls, obviously. The skill and talent of Rose will be a great punch on the court; what will really stand out is that the heart and spirit of the team–both for the team and for the fans–is returning to the United Center. After a year and a half of anticipation, wondering down to the last game against the Miami Heat in the 2013 playoffs if Rose would make a miraculous return, the bright comet of the Chicago Bulls will blaze down the court again and set the competition ablaze. Our shooting guards and shooting forwards are looking sharp. Jimmy Butler is in need of some polish, but there is plenty of time to make sure that he is in the best condition to hit the court. Mike Dunleavy will serve as a secret weapon for the Bulls as the opposition will be on guard against the dynamite talent of Derrick Rose which will keep their eye distracted from the three-point power of Dunleavy. Power forwards Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Malcom Thomas, and Erik Murphy are focused but in need of strengthening. Carlos Boozer is the 2014 Bulls’ Scottie Pippen, reliable with strong offense, but his defense needs a lot of work. Taj Gibson, on the other hand, brings a great defensive game. If the two could learn from each other, we would have two stunning power forwards on the court. Boozer’s on court relationship with Noah creates spectacular offense as well; they are a threat just like Pippen and Jordan when they hit the court together. Centers Joakim Noah and Nazr Mohammad round out the roster. Joakim Noah is the Bulls offense and does well adapting to the style of his teammates while remaining determined and focused. Mohammad does his job well with decent defense and use of fouls, but he is not good in long play. If Noah’s annual injuries flare up again, Mohammad will have big shoes to fill on the court as he is simply not on Noah’s level yet. The Bulls roster looks good, and they’ve proven that they can play without Rose. This year should provide us with amazing basketball as the return of Rose will only boost the ability of the already spectacular Chicago Bulls.

Basketball Biology 101: This is a heart.

Basketball Biology 101: This is a heart.

Baseball

Later, 'gator

Later, gator

After many rumors and a lot of talks, the Cubs have traded Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers. In return the Cubs are getting third baseman Mike Ott and two right-handed pitchers, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm. The trade agreement also allows for the Cubs to acquire up to two more pitchers, possibly Neil Ramirez. This is proof that the Cubs are serious about rebuilding. It stands to reason that the Cubs are looking to build a good team that is could possibly begin winning because with all of the talk about revamping Wrigley Field, they should have a team good enough to draw fans into the expensive stadium. This also shows the Cubs are shifting away from keeping fan favorites and abandoning player loyalty and looking to rebuild a functioning baseball team that stands a chance to make the playoffs in the coming years.

Football

BREAKING: If you keep eating that towel, you will not be hungry for lunch!

BREAKING: If you keep eating that towel, you will not be hungry for lunch!

The Bears begin training camp on Thursday! Preseason football will be hitting our television screens in a matter of weeks. Hopefully the Bears will be taking this time to strengthen their offensive line and forcing Jay Cutler to step up his game in order to get the Bears into the playoffs this season. Chicago is hungry for another major sports victory, and the Bears have the talent and the drive to make it happen.

Bear Down!

Bear Down!

Olympians, returned superstars, new players, and new goals; the world of Chicago sports is spinning into very interesting areas. As these sports get revved up and ready to go, remember that one very important event happening this year is the retirement of Mike Ditka’s number in January. Get ready for this monumental year of football and festivities with our Mike Ditka Chicago Bear tee shirt (http://tinyurl.com/oht723e). Grab great sports threads from Clark Street Sports so you can be ready for all of the exciting things happening in Chicago sports!

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Chicago vs. Denver

Nuggets vs. Bulls at the United Center and Blackhawks vs. Avalanche at the Pepsi Center

Tonight, the city of Chicago faces off against the Mile High City of Denver. Both the Blackhawks and Bulls will look for revenge tonight against their Denver counterparts as the Bulls lost to the Nuggets 128-96 at the Pepsi Center on February 7 and the Hawks lost to the Avs 6-2 on March 8th.

Following a 42 point loss Wednesday to the Sacramento Kings, the Bulls were able to recover defeating the Golden State Warriors 113-95 Friday night in Oakland. As for the Blackhawks, since recording their only two regulation defeats, they have outscored their opponents 10-2 in two games.

After a long road trip, the Bulls will return home and play 5 of their next 7 games at the United Center. Chicago sports fans, remember to pickup all your favorite Blackhawks and Bulls merchandise at Clark Street Sports as both teams prepare for the Playoffs.

 

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Top 10 NBA Teams

The 2011-2012 NBA Season is winding down and there are a sufficient number of teams that have a chance to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy in late June. With the shortened and chaotic 2012 season, I feel any of the 10 teams listed below have the capability of winning the NBA Championship, however, the teams below are listed in the order I feel they have of winning a championship. Remember, this isn’t a top 10 list of where the I feel every teams presently stand, it’s a list of which team I feel has the best chance at winning an NBA Championship this season.

10. New York Knicks: Most people would be shocked by two things here: one, that I picked the Knicks so low on my list and two that I didn’t put the Clippers on my list. First for the why I feel the Knicks have the 10th best odds to win it all this year: because the Knicks have a superstar (Melo), a solid front court (Stoudemire (if he’s healthy) and Chandler), along with a team that as of late has played a much better style for the playoffs under new coach Mike Woodson. Those are a few reasons why I feel the Knicks have a chance to make a run in the playoffs. At the same time, I feel there are a few reasons why I feel the Knicks are at-least one year away from being in the same sentence with the Bulls and Heat at the top of the Eastern Conference. For one, Mike Woodson hasn’t been able to implement his system and Amare Stoudemire isn’t close to being 100%. If Amare can come back healthy next year and the Knicks can improve the depth on their roster, I believe New York can be a tough out (and somehow a sleeper team while playing in New York) during the 2013 season. As for why the Clippers aren’t on this list, they’re playing for a “lame duck” coach and as good as Blake Griffin is, I’m not sure he’s ready to win a NBA Championship while playing in his first playoff appearance.

9. Dallas Mavericks: For the Dallas Mavericks, I quote the great Rudy Tomjanovich moments after the 1994-1995 Houston Rockets (a team that finished 6th in the Western Conference and were down 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Phoenix) won the NBA Championship: “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.” I agree with Rudy T, and feel until the former Champion is eliminated, you have to consider them to be a serious contender for a NBA Championship. At the same time, the Mavs traded their best defensive player (Tyson Chandler) and have a roster made up of players that aren’t sure what’s going to happen after this season. I feel with the distractions surrounding this team (which also include Lamar Odom), along with the lack of depth on this years team, the Mavericks won’t win the championship in 2012, nevertheless, make sure to not count out the defending champs until they’ve been eliminated.

8. Denver Nuggets: The NBA feature a lot of deep teams however, no team has the quality of depth that the Denver Nuggets feature. The Nuggets are two deep at each position (Point Guard: Ty Lawson and Andre Miller; Shooting Guards: Arron Afflalo, Corey Brewer, and Rudy Fernandez; Small Forwards: Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Jordan Hamilton; Power Forward: Kenneth Faried and Al Harrington; Center: JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, and Chris Anderson) and have 14 quality players on this roster. I feel the Nuggests should have had at-least one All-Star (most likely Ty Lawson) but instead not one player on their roster was invited to a NBA All-Star Weekend Event. Unlike last year, the Nuggets know who will be on their team next year and into the future (and won’t have to suffer through another Carmelo situation) as everyone but JaVale McGee is signed through the 2013-2014 season (McGee is a restricted free agent after this season). As deep as the Nuggets are (and if they’re able to resign McGee after the season this, will only improve their team that much more), I still feel most championship caliber teams need a superstar to take and make the clutch shots during crunch time. Denver also features a questionable defensive roster (the Nuggets defense ranks 22nd and are giving up 103.6 points per game) that will eventually catch up with them in the playoffs as the game slows down. The Nuggets are going to give a team a tough playoff series but I’m not sure they have enough to defeat the elite teams in the NBA Playoffs.

7. Memphis Grizzlies: The 2011 Memphis Grizzlies, who defeated the #1 seeded Spurs and took the Thunder to 7 games, has shown everyone that there a team that has to be taken seriously, as they have a lot of talent on their roster. The Grizzlies have one of the best front courts in the NBA (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph) to go along with a solid front court (Mike Conley, Tony Allen, and Rudy Gay) and a good bench (O.J. Mayo, Quincy Pondexter, Marreese Speights, and Dante Cunningham). If the Grizzlies are healthy, Memphis will be able to relay on their defense and inside game in the playoffs. On the other hand, the Grizzlies feature one of the worst shooting teams in the league and don’t have any good three-point shooters on their team (OJ Mayo shoots the best percentage on their team at 35%). Because of this, I’m not sure the Grizzlies have enough to be considered an elite team in the west and a true contender for an NBA Title.

6. Boston Celtics: During the first half of the 2011-2012 season, the Celtics looked like a team that was lost (15-17 at the All-Star Break) and now are back to being the Celtics that we’ve known since The Big 3 came together (15-5 since the All-Star Break). If Ray Allen is able to come back and get healthy soon, the Celtics can make one last run before Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett’s contracts are up and the Celtics go in a new direction. As old as the Celtics are, that’s not why I put the Celtics so low on this list; I put Boston at the number 6 spot because of the lack of depth on their roster. The Celtics have a good backup guard (Avery Bradley), and that’s about it as the other solid parts of their bench are either hurt (Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Wilcox, and Mickael Pietrus) or are too young (JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, and Greg Stiemsma) to have a significant affect on their roster. I think the Celtics can win a round in the playoffs and can make either the Bulls or Heat sweat in the second but I’m not sure they have enough depth to go deep in the playoffs.

5. L.A. Lakers: As good a leader as Derek Fisher is, I feel the Lakers certainly made the correct decision by trading Dereck Fisher to Houston and acquiring Ramon Sessions from the Cavs. With the acquisition of Sessions to their roster (and not having to give up very much in return), I feel the Lakers once again are a contender in the Western Conference. When everyone’s on the same page (which is a big question mark), Los Angeles has the best front court (Bynum and Gasol) in the NBA to go along with a solid back court of Sessions and Kobe Bryant. As good as the Lakers are, I still feel the Lakers have a lot of holes on their roster (especially on their bench), and I’m not sure everyone’s on the same page. If everyone can get on the same page and their bench can step up and make a few key plays, the Lakers can become a legitimate contender for another NBA Championship.

4. San Antonio Spurs: Once again, the San Antonio Spurs are close to the top of the Western Conference (3 games back of Oklahoma City) and are showing there as strong as ever. The Spurs have a great mixture of veteran leaders (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Stephen Jackson) to go along with solid role players which are both young (Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Patty Mills, and James Anderson) and old (Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw). San Antonio always plays a great brand of basketball and with the depth on their roster can matchup against any team in the NBA. The Spurs have had success against the Thunder this year (2-1), and have proved that their veteran leadership and experience might be able to slow down the pace and contain the Thunder. As for why I wouldn’t put them higher on this list: because Tim Duncan (though effective) isn’t nearly the player he used to be, and Tony Parker is now the best player on their roster. The Spurs have shown they don’t have one player that has to take every clutch shot and instead can come from a list of players which include Parker, Ginobili, Duncan, Neal, or Jackson. If the Spurs can avoid a few teams in the playoffs (Memphis and the Lakers) I feel San Antonio can make a deep run at adding another Championship.

3. Miami Heat: As much talent as the Miami Heat have on their roster, the Miami Heat seem to have two different teams. At times the Heat look like they are one of the best teams in the league and other times they look lazy and non-interested. Miami has two of the top 10 players in the league along with another top 20 player and good role players on their roster. It seems that the Heat feel they have the capability to turn on a switch and become a dominant team in the playoffs. If they are able to turn this switch on, they’ll be tough to beat; if not, they might not be able to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals in a few months.

2.Oklahoma City Thunder: What an impressive 6 games stretch by the Oklahoma City Thunder as during their 6 game winning streak, they’ve defeated the Clippers, T-Wolves, Heat, Blazers, Lakers, and Bulls by an average of 12.5 points. Like the Heat, the Thunder have two of the top 10 players in the NBA (Durant and Westbrook), along with the best 6th man in the NBA (Harden), good interior defense (Ibaka, Perkins, Collison, Mohammed), along with two previous NBA Champions (Perkins (1) and Fisher (5)). The Thunder have the best young core of talent in the league but have to make sure they avoid a few things if they want to win a NBA Championship. One, they need to make sure Kevin Durant is the focal point of their offense which will open up shots for Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, and others. Oklahoma City also needs to make sure they establish some type of inside/post game as when the game slows down, OKC is going to need to have someone make sure they can go into the post to set up some type of half-court offense. If they aren’t able to establish an inside presence or post-up game, the Thunder will once again struggle in the playoffs. Like the Spurs, I feel the Thunder need to make sure they avoid a few teams (Memphis and San Antonio) in the playoffs if they want to have a reasonably easy time advancing to the NBA Finals; at the same time I’m not saying they can’t beat the Grizzlies or Spurs, I’m just saying it will be tough.

1. Chicago Bulls: Even with Derrick Rose missing 20 games, the Bulls have the best record in the NBA and night after night bring their A game. With Rose absents, everyone on the Bulls roster has had to contribute from the starting lineup: (Noah’s rebounding to Boozer not missing a game and Mr.Everything Luol Deng) to the bench (with the defensive interior defense of Taj Gibson and Omer Asik to go along with the depth in the Bulls back court in Ronnie Brewer, Jimmy Butler, C.J. Watson and John Lucas), to the great coaching staff. I’m not saying teams don’t try because I feel every player in the NBA wants to win but no team takes each position as seriously as the Bulls do. If the Bulls can get healthy (Rose and Hamilton) and everyone is close to 100%, I feel the Bulls are as good as any team in the NBA and can compete with every team in the league. At the same time, if everyone’s not 100%, it’s going to be tough for the Bulls to make a deep run in the playoffs and raise banner #7 in the United Center.

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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in NBA, Sports

 

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