NBA Power Rankings: NBA Finals rematch on deck?


NBA Power Rankings: NBA Finals rematch on deck?

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 5 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3 Week 4

Tony:Five-game winning streak pushes them to No. 1.
Mark:Point-differential (9.8) best in the NBA by more than a point (NYK: 8.2)
Tony:Hottest team in the NBA, led by Mr. Sportsman of the Year.
Mark:Best record in the West, and maybe the best defense in the NBA.
Tony:Nearly unbeatable at home (8-1).
Mark:Westbrook's improvement nearly as impressive as Durant's.
Tony:Only lost by 5 to Heat on the road without 4 best players? This is a good team.
Mark:Thursday night's game in Miami will be a good test.
Tony:Carmelo will definitely be getting some MVP votes.
Mark:Hey, Stern: The rest worked. Spurs beat Memphis in overtime on Saturday.
Tony:Basketball is back in the Big Apple.
Mark: Three-game win streak after losing four in a row after last week.7
Tony:Still hot, but just not as sizzling as teams above them.
Mark:Blatche has played well in Lopez's absence.8
Tony:Remember, they're doing this all without Bynum.
Mark:Evan Turner may be the league's most improved player.
Tony:Cracking the Top 10, and they deserve it.
Mark:Won six in a row before a home loss to the Cavaliers. Huh?
Tony:Getting hot as season picks up. 7-3 since 2-2 start.
Mark:Stephen Curry's ankles look healthy...for now.
Tony:Still hovering around .500. Will age catch up to them?
Mark:Losses at Utah, Golden State and Los Angeles were disappointing for talented roster.
Tony:Very well balanced team just hitting its stride.
Mark:Rondo coming back after two-game suspension.
Tony:Clawed their way back to over .500.
Mark:Belinelli, Butler need to step up while Hamilton recovers from foot injury.
Tony:This is just getting sad now.
Mark:Larry Sanders quietly third in the league in blocks per game (3.0).
Tony:Just gotta stay afloat 'til Dirk returns.
Mark:Pau is out withtendinitis, but he wasn't doing much in D'Antoni's system.16
Tony:They'll continue to stay alive in what will prove to be close Central race.
Mark:Won four of their last five, all at home.
Tony:Bad news about Favors, just as he was coming into his own.
Mark:Lucky to be in the Central, where they're still competing with Granger on the bench.
Tony:Still underperforming, but right in the thick of playoff chase.
Mark:Nice revenge win last week against Los Angeles for Randy Foye, Mo Williams.
Tony:Omer Asik is a double-double every night.
Mark:Rubio likely less than two weeks away.
Tony:Love is back, Rubio on the way.
Mark:They've lost 4 of 6, and now head to the West coast.
Tony:Starting to revert back to form with four-game losing streak.
Mark:Back-to-back overtime wins at CLE and CHA after losing four in a row. Not great.
Tony:Finding a way to win some close games so far.
Mark:Have now lost four in a row, and five of six.
Tony:Allowing the most points per game in NBA.
Mark:Nice road wins over Los Angeles and Golden State to start five-game roadtrip.
Tony:Have quietly started another winning streak.
Mark:Three-game losing streak, and the schedule gets tougher from here.
Tony:They've really turned things around in a hurry.
Mark:Now have a winning record (6-5) since winless start through eight games.
Tony:Have lost 9 of 11 since 3-2 start.
Mark:Anthony Davis injuries starting to be a concern?
Tony:Having real issues distributing on offense (last in NBA in assists per game).
Mark:The fourth Jonas brother, Valanciunas, is improving each week.
Tony:Have dropped 7 of 8 as inconsistency shows.
Mark:Isaiah Thomas a real disappointment early this season.
Tony:They just look lost without Kyrie.
Mark:Anderson Varejao will be an enticing trade candidate at the deadline.
Tony:Hey! They won a game!
Mark:Injuries continue to decimate an already-shallow roster.

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

CLEVELAND - Kyle Schwarber is in the Cubs starting lineup for the first time since April 7.

It just so happens to also be the Cubs' first World Series starting lineup since 1945.

The Cubs released Joe Maddon's Game 1 lineup against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians Tuesday afternoon ahead of a historic World Series matchup.

Schwarber is hitting fifth at DH:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Kyle Schwarber - DH
6. Javy Baez - 2B
7. Chris Coghlan - RF
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. David Ross - C

And Jon Lester is on the mound.

Schwarber is already the Cubs' all-time leader in postseason homers with five longballs in last season's playoff run.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Coghlan in the lineup is also a surprise as defensive stalwart Jason Heyward gets the boot to the bench for the second straight game.

The Cubs put Albert Almora Jr. in right field at Wrigley Saturady night when they beat Clayton Kershaw and locked up the NLCs.

Heyward is hitting .071 with a .312 OPS in the postseason, collecting only two hits and a walk in 10 games.

Coghlan has appeared in five games - all as a pinch-hitter - and is 0-for-4 with a walk and a run. 

The Cubs have scored 23 runs in the last three games after being shut out in 21 straight innings prior to that.

Cubs' Javy Baez, Indians' Francisco Lindor cross paths again, this time at World Series

Cubs' Javy Baez, Indians' Francisco Lindor cross paths again, this time at World Series

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor and Javy Baez have always traveled a similar path, from Puerto Rico to Florida to being selected one pick apart in the 2011 amateur draft.

The young star infielders will take another monumental step together on Tuesday night when they square off in the World Series.

Baez has been a breakout star this season for the Cubs, who return to the Fall Classic on Tuesday night after a 71-year absence against Lindor and the Cleveland Indians. 

A first-time All-Star in 2016 and runner-up for the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year award, Lindor said he and Baez, whose families once celebrated Thanksgiving together, reflected upon the significance of the moment over the weekend.

“He texted me after he won and said, ‘Hey man, is this a dream?’” Lindor said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I think it is because I haven’t woke up yet.’ I’m excited.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Baez and Lindor, the Indians’ shortstop for the past two seasons, grew up 20 miles apart in Puerto Rico and knew of each other. Both moved to Florida — about 160 miles apart — where their paths crossed again in high school and travel baseball games. Their proximity to one another got even closer when in 2011 the Indians selected Lindor with the eighth overall pick of the draft and the Cubs grabbed Baez with the ninth pick.

Lindor said Monday that their two families celebrated Thanksgiving together about a year after that with Baez’s family hosting the event. There was food and ping pong — Lindor said each player won a few games — and a good time was had by all.

“It was cool,” Lindor said. “His family made food and my mom brought something over and we just chilled. We ate, we had fun --- it was cool man. It was fun. That’s what kids do.”

Now those same youngsters are set to oppose each other in baseball’s most prestigious event. Not only that, both men’s franchises are attempting to snap lengthy World Series droughts and Baez and Lindor, who each have played starring roles this October, could potentially play big roles in their teams’ fortunes. Lindor said he can’t wait to get to shortstop and engage in some friendly banter with his longtime friend.

“Just like regular athletes we’re very competitive,” Lindor said. “We’re going to enjoy the game. But at the same time he likes to enjoy the game and that’s how I am too. You’ll see us whenever he’s at second base and I’m in the dugout -- you’ll see us saying stuff to each other and throughout the game. It’s fun. I’m really excited and can’t wait to go out there and play against him.

“I’m happy for him, happy for his family because he deserves it. All the things he has done, I’m super happy for him. I can’t wait to go out there and have fun. I just want to see him and give him a hug and say congrats.”