Bulls NBA Playoffs action returns to CSN (Game 1 coverage begins Saturday at 11:30 a.m.)

Bulls NBA Playoffs action returns to CSN (Game 1 coverage begins Saturday at 11:30 a.m.)

CHICAGO BULLS NBA PLAYOFFS ACTION RETURNS TO COMCAST SPORTSNET
First Round Coverage Begins this Saturday, April 28 at 11:30 AM
Network to carry exclusive local TV coverage of Bulls vs. Sixers Game 1-3 (5-7 if nec.)

CSNChicago.com to provide LIVE video stream of EVERY Bulls post-game press conference, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes video and post-game reports from Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam

Chicago, IL (April 27, 2012) Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls (who, for the second-straight season, finished the regular season with the NBAs best overall record; tied with San Antonio at 50-16), is ready to deliver electrifying 2012 NBA Playoffs action as the Bulls look to continue their amazing season run in first round action against the Philadelphia 76ers. Comcast SportsNet will be the exclusive local television home in the Chicago market to see live coverage of Games 1-3, along with Games 5-7 (if necessary), plus every Comcast SportsNet Bulls playoff game telecast will also be presented in a high-definition (HD) format.

Comcast SportsNets Chicago BullsNBA Playoffs coverage gets underway this Saturday, April 28 beginning at 11:30 AM with exclusive local home team call coverage of Game 1 between the Bulls and Sixers live from the United Center. The always-entertaining Comcast SportsNet Bulls announcing tandem of Neil Funk and Stacey King will have the call for every first round telecast, plus Comcast SportsNets Gail Fischer will provide in-stadium reports throughout the first round. Coverage for Game 1 gets underway with McDonalds Bulls Pre-Game Live at 11:30 AM live from the United Center featuring Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill; opening tip-off is set for 12 NOON. Plus, immediately following all playoff games Kia Bulls Post Game Live will feature live locker room interviews, detailed analysis, along with head coach Tom Thibodeaus post-game press conferences and numerous player interviews. (Comcast SportsNets complete Bulls first round coverage schedule is included in this release.)

Throughout the playoffs, viewers can also look forward to SportsNet Central: Playoff Central (scheduled nightly at 10:30 PM, times may vary due to airing of live events) for the most in-depth BullsNBA Playoffs coverage, including game recaps, previews, up-to-the-minute teamplayer updates, interviews and numerous playoff highlights from around the league.

Also, throughout the playoffs, Comcast SportsNets comprehensive website, CSNChicago.com, will provide fans with even more exclusive BullsNBA Playoffs content including the following:
CSNChicago.com will stream EVERY Bulls postgame press conference LIVE providing insider access to coach Tom Thibodeau addressing the media as it happens.
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam will be on-site -- for EVERY Bulls playoff game -- filing stories and video for each game and team practices, plus Sam will provide up-to-the-second Tweets via @CSNBullsInsider throughout the series.
New-look Bulls team page offers latest news, player interviews, highlights, video and more 247
Game highlights available on CSNChicago.com following every game along with Game Story, a web-exclusive recap of each game.
Bulls Talk (@BullsTalkCSN) offers news, views and analysis from Sam, blogger Tony Andracki, Bulls PrePostgame hosts Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) and Kendall Gill as well as other CSNChicago.com contributors.
Additional NBA Playoffs coverage content sharingcross-promotion via NBCSports.com & ProBasketballTalk.com.
CSNChicago.coms Bulls news is presented by Suzuki; Bulls Talk sponsored by Illinois Back Institute

Note the following first round schedule of games and additional coverage information on Comcast SportsNet:

CHICAGO BULLS vs. PHILADELPHIA 76ers on COMCAST SPORTSNET

Game 1: Sat, April 28, NOON Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) in HD

(NOTES: Bulls Pre-Game Live at 11:30 amBulls Post Game Live after the game, plus SportsNet Central at 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:30 pm and midnight to provide even more comprehensive BullsNBA Playoffs coverage; game replay at 11:00 pm)

Game 2: Tue, May 1, 7:00 pm Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) in HD
(NOTES: Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6:30 pmBulls Post Game Live after the game; GMC SportsNet Central to follow; game replay at 11:00 pm)

-- IMPORTANT CUBS NOTE: The Cubs at Cincinnati game (originally scheduled on Comcast SportsNet at 6:00 pm) will now move to CSN (or CLTV in the Chicago market).

Game 3: Fri, May 4, 7:00 pm Bulls at Sixers (Wells Fargo Center) in HD

(NOTES: Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6:30 pmBulls Post Game Live after the game; GMC SportsNet Central airs at 10:00 pm; game replay at 11:00 pm)

-- IMPORTANT WHITE SOX NOTE: The White Sox at Detroit game (originally scheduled on Comcast SportsNet at 6:00 pm) will now move to CSN (or CLTV in the Chicago market).

Game 4: Sun, May 6 at approx. 3:30 pm Kia Bulls Post Game Live on Comcast SportsNet

Game 5: Tue, May 8 (Time TBD) Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) (if necessary) in HD

Game 6: Thu, May 10 (Time TBD) Bulls at Sixers (Wells Fargo Center) (if necessary) in HD

Game 7: Sat, May 12 (Time TBD) Bulls vs. Sixers (United Center) (if necessary) in HD

Morning Update: Bulls fall to Blazers; Could Chris Sale be on the move?

Morning Update: Bulls fall to Blazers; Could Chris Sale be on the move?

Five Things to Watch: Bulls in Detroit for fourth game in five nights on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Despite Chris Sale rumors, White Sox say they have contingencies in place for a rebuild

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

Slow start to fourth dooms Bulls in loss to Blazers

Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

Rajon Rondo used foul language with Bulls assistant coaches following loss to Mavs

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

[MORE BEARS: Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved]

Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”