Starting Five: Bulls at Mavericks

Starting Five: Bulls at Mavericks

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
1:25 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau discussed Carlos Boozers progress with the assembled media prior to the teams shootaround, taking a more cautious viewpoint, but detailing what his injured star has been doing in Chicagos practices.

Well, Bulls team trainer Fred Tedeschi, he keeps me informed to where Boozer is, in terms of the things he can do. So, all the things that he can do -- hes going through some dummy offense, hes going through some defensive close-out drills, things like that -- and the next step, hell be cleared to practice where he can take some contact," Thibodeau said. "Were probably looking at another week or so, so when that happens well move forward from there, but we cant think about him playing until he can start going through some practices.

We will know better about when Boozer will play in games once he starts practicing. Hes still two steps away.

2. Thibodeau talked about the strengths of the Bulls opponent Friday, the Mavericks -- a team Chicago faced twice in the preseason -- as well as what his team needs to do to be successful.

Taj Gibson will start off on him Dallas superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki," he said. "A great player like that, youre not going to guard with one player. You have to rely on your team defense. The Mavs have so many different weapons because of their quickness in the backcourt, the shooting ability of Nowitzki and of course, their size. Any time youre putting two defenders on the ball, youre vulnerable to the second shot, so they can hurt you with the second shot ... theyre bringing Jason Terry and Shawn Marion off the bench, youve got two guys that can come in and get 20 points on you off the bench.

We have to make sure were back defensively. Our floor balance, we have control over that, and you have to be careful -- they play more zone than anybody else -- so if youre settling for jump shots against them and theyre long jump shots, if you dont have floor balance, now youre vulnerable to giving them easy scoring opportunities in transition. We have to make sure that whether theyre in zone or man, we still want to remain the same and be inside-out. That balls got to get into the paint.

3. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose talked about Boozers potential impact on the team and how it could help him personally before Wednesdays loss to the Spurs in San Antonio.

Playing with him Boozer, theyll have to double-team him, explained Rose. Ill be on the weak side. If the swing pass comes to me, Ill have a live dribble -- usually when I come down, Im already dribbling; I dont usually play with a live dribble -- but when he comes back, Ill have a live dribble and Im going to be able to spot up and shoot.

4. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle spoke incredibly favorably about the Bulls after Dallas shootaround at the American Airlines Center.

To me, they have the highest motor of any team in the league," Carlisle said. "Their energy level stays up -- both offensively and defensively -- and so that makes them extremely difficult to guard and it also makes them hard to score against because they just have a persistence about their game. We have to be extremely aggressive, yet we have to have the right amount of poise, as well.

Were going to have to be disciplined, were going to have to understand how these guys approach the game and were going to have to be able to play our game at a high level against an opponent thats really going to have to have a persistent physical presence on both ends the entire night.

Carlisle talked specifically about the task Dallas has in defending Rose.

Great player," Carlisle said. "Right now, hes one of the best players in the game. Statistically, their team has got a winning record because of him, in large part. Hes just continuing to make large strides. Now hes shooting the three really well and making mid-range jump shots. Hes one of the more difficult guys on the planet to guard, he remarked, dismissively joking, Im not going to tell you, when asked how he planned to strategize against Rose.

Look, hes an MVP candidate. Thats how good he is and how important he is to his team. A guy like that is going to get a lot of attention from the opponent. Youve got to have a lot of different scenarios to try to deal with him. Youve got to have a lot of different people ready. Its a great challenge for us.

Added Mavericks guard Jason Terry: Hes looking to score more. Hes looking to be the leader of that team and hes doing a great job. As he goes, they go. If he has a big game, theyre going to win, nine times out of 10.

Carlisle, whos familiar with Boozer from past Utah-Dallas Western Conference battles, also talked about the looming return of Carlos Boozer to the Bulls lineup.

Boozer, hes an All-Star caliber player and he fits, very well, with what theyre doing," Carlisle told CSNChicago.com on Friday. "When he comes back, theyll be able to bring Gibson off the bench, start Boozer and itll just strengthen their rotation that much more. I dont know what the timetable is, but theyre going to go from being a good team to a really good team in a hurry when he gets back.

Chimed in Terry: Boozers going to give them a post presence, another scoring optionhes an All-Star, so he commands a lot of respect from the opposing team.
5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the bottom six carrying the Blackhawks to a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Later, Mayers weighs in on possible targets with the NHL trade deadline just six weeks away.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below:

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

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In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."