Game 5: Rose, Bulls look to close out series

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Game 5: Rose, Bulls look to close out series

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 4:14 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

According to logic, the Bulls' fate in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Pacers rests on Derrick Rose's tender ankle. His own proclamations or not, anybody who's paid attention to Rose's demeanor knows that not only will he play, but more than likely play well in Chicago's potential close-out game.

At the very least, the All-Star point guard will give it an honest effort and if his devoted teammates pick up his slack--something necessary, whether he plays or not--it should be "on to the next one" (specifically, the second round of the playoffs), as the Bulls are fond of saying after games. Regardless of his health, Indiana's swarming defense has befuddled the Bulls as of late, with bigger defenders bodying up Rose and Pacers post players trapping him just past halfcourt, either forcing the ball out of his hands or forcing him into tough shots.

READ: Rose says it's not broken, so I'm playing

An overly discussed issue has been Indiana's physical play, both when targeting Rose on his forays into the lane and around the basket in general. While the Pacers certainly haven't been afraid to flex their muscles, it's not as if they're manhandling Chicago, but when a team has been so dominant in the paint all season long, it can be jarring to see an opposing team strike back.

The two main tenets of the Bulls' team success--defense and rebounding--haven't abandoned them, but the plucky Pacers' ability to keep things close all series has become more than an irritant, now that they've actually won a game. The young squad's burgeoning confidence has been evident and while Chicago isn't yet in the danger zone, it's important to put Indiana away in a convincing fashion, for rest purposes, to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals and to make a show of force in a postseason that has left several regular-season powerhouses looking vulnerable, if not in a more precarious position.

According to Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel--as an aside, if his team's performance doesn't shed the "interim" tag from his title, nothing will--if Indiana wins Game 5, they believe they can win the entire series. As far-fetched as that may sound, the Bulls would be wise to not allow that scenario to even become a possibility.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Questions about Soler, Coghlan, Almora Jr. as Cubs shape playoff roster

Questions about Soler, Coghlan, Almora Jr. as Cubs shape playoff roster

PITTSBURGH – As the Cubs shape the edges of their playoff roster, there are more outfield questions than answers: Is Jorge Soler running out of time? Will Chris Coghlan be ready? Can Albert Almora Jr. handle October?           

After two MRIs on his right side came back clean, Soler rejoined the team on Thursday at PNC Park, so he could work with the training staff and hitting coaches. Yes, Soler shined during seven playoff games last year – putting up three homers, three doubles, five RBI and six walks – but he’s only gotten nine at-bats within the last two weeks and the Cubs sound like they are losing patience. 

“It’s not awful – I don’t think it’s dire,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He needs to get going, though. We got to find out. This is one of those things you want to test. But if you test too soon, then it could totally take him out of an entire postseason. 

“You got to be careful, in a sense. He felt pretty good today, from what I was told. It’s just once in a while he just feels it in a very, very, very minor way. From a training perspective, it’s all good. We just have to wait for him to say: I feel up to par.”      

Coghlan left cleat marks on the W.B. Mason advertisement on PNC Park’s left-field wall during Wednesday night’s 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, spraining his left ankle while jumping for a ball hit over his head.

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Coghlan called it a day-to-day issue and didn’t sound worried about where he fits into the playoff picture. Writing off his struggles with the Oakland A’s – and appreciating the opportunity after getting traded back to the Cubs midseason – the left-handed hitter is batting .326 with a .954 OPS through 18 games in September.

“I’ve been real productive,” Coghlan said. “At this point, they already know what type of player I am. It feels good for me just to contribute to the team. (It’s) fun to be out there playing more often and producing at the level that I know I can.” 

It’s unclear if Soler and Coghlan will play during this weekend’s end-of-the-regular-season series against the Cincinnati Reds, but the Cubs don’t necessarily need to see them in action at Great American Ball Park. 

Injuries could potentially create a spot for Almora, a 22-year-old rookie with first-round pedigree and a high baseball IQ who’s viewed as a future Gold Glove-level defender.

“He’s always ready to play,” Maddon said. “And if you put him in any situation, he’s fine.”

Bears Talk Podcast: Will Bears pick up first win of season against Lions?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Will Bears pick up first win of season against Lions?

Today's panel includes Pat Boyle, Jim Miller, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski. The guys talk about what went wrong in Dallas and whether or not they can fix it this Sunday against Detroit. Brian Urlacher also explains the intricacies of the '46' defense. Finally, Urlacher-- an avid golf fan-- talks the Ryder Cup and previews his new show on The Golf Channel.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: