Bulls control own destiny in regular season's final week


Bulls control own destiny in regular season's final week

DEERFIELD, Ill.With two regular-season games remaining Wednesdays road matchup at division rival Indiana and the season finale Thursday against Cleveland the Bulls control their own destiny.

A win in either of the aforementioned contests or a loss by the Heat, in either Tuesday nights showdown at Atlantic Division winner Boston or Thursdays matchup at lowly Washington, which beat Miami at home last week, would clinch the Easts top seed for the Bulls. If the Bulls were to drop their final two games and Miami won out, the Heat would own the tiebreaker between the two teams, as that scenario would give Miami the better record against Eastern Conference teams, as the first tie-breaking criteria, the teams head-to-head matchups, wouldnt factor in, as the season series is tied at two apiece after the Heats win last Thursday.

If that isnt complicated enough, the race for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs is still up for grabs outside of Miami. The Bulls currently have the same record as San Antonio, which also has two regular-season games left to play, and own the tiebreaker by virtue of beating the Spurs earlier in the season. However, while the Bulls have no room for error, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus main competition for NBA Coach of the Year honors is notorious for resting his star players down the stretch of the season and with a Phoenix team still fighting for the playoff lives on San Antonios slate Wednesday, the Bulls could have an advantage.

Then, theres the other spectrum of postseason battles: Philadelphia and New York fighting for or against the Easts seventh seed. Assuming the Heat, who have rested players down the stretch, but face a Celtics team prone to the same practices, end up with the second seed, the common perception is that the 76ers and Knicks would prefer to fall to eighth and face the Bulls, an assertion backed up by comments of various players on both teams as of late.

New York, still trying to develop chemistry between star forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, have a Wednesday home game against a Clippers team still jockeying for playoff position in the West before their finale on the road against historically-awful Charlotte, while the Sixers, in the midst of five consecutive road games to end the season, have their own back-to-back against Milwaukee, which was eliminated Monday night, and Detroit.

Both teams have given the Bulls trouble over the course of the season, but with Anthonys recent scoring tear and the Knicks improved defense under interim head coach Mike Woodson, whether the Bulls admit it or not, theyd probably prefer to face Philadelphia, which features much less offensive firepower and limped into clinching a playoff berth Tuesday night after appearing to be running away with the Atlantic Division earlier in the season.

Joe Maddon's mom could miss Game 3 of World Series at Wrigley due to delayed flight

Joe Maddon's mom could miss Game 3 of World Series at Wrigley due to delayed flight

The Cubs are hosting their first World Series game since Oct. 10, 1945 tonight, and there's an important family member that may not be in the stands for it.

Joe Maddon's mom, Beanie, was expected to be in attendance, but that's now in jeopardy after Maddon told reporters prior to the game that her flight from Philadelphia to Chicago was delayed due to an aircract that caught fire at O'Hare airport Friday afternoon.

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Operations have resumed, but it's unclear whether her flight will arrive in time for her to make Game 3 when the Cubs battle the Cleveland Indians.

Indians embrace potentially hostile Wrigley Field conditions for Game 3

Indians embrace potentially hostile Wrigley Field conditions for Game 3

With the city drunk on Cubs fever, the Cleveland Indians expect to face hostile conditions when storied Wrigley Field hosts its first World Series game since 1945 on Friday.

But Indians manager Terry Francona said the potential for an unreceptive atmosphere shouldn’t intimidate his club. Francona said Thursday that the makeup of the Indians, a group flush with veterans and and confident young stars, should help the team manage itself in the potentially Unfriendly Confines in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series. Josh Tomlin faces the Cubs Kyle Hendricks in the contest, which begins at 7:08 p.m. CST.

“It will be a tremendous atmosphere,” Francona said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of people cheering for us. But then that’s where it comes in the feeling in the clubhouse because it is going to be us against the world (Friday), but us is pretty good. We have a good feeling. Everybody in there protects everybody else and takes care of everybody else.”

Wrigley Field promises to offer a surreal setting on Friday.

 The Cubs have never played a game this late in the calendar year and they haven’t been to this far in the postseason for several generations.

Fans were lined up for the Cubby Bear as early as 5 a.m. and other local watering holes reached full capacity 4-5 hours before first pitch with patrons paying ridiculous cover charges just to be able to watch the game live from Wrigleyville.

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

Still, Cleveland isn’t unprepared for insane playing conditions. The Indians won their only game at always electric Fenway Park in the American League Division Series and then emerged victorious in two of three games at the insanely loud Rogers Centre in front of crowds of 49,507 and 48,800. Veteran first baseman Mike Napoli said he hoped the Indians might face the Cubs in the World Series just so he could experience Wrigley Field in October.

“It's a park you want to come to and play,” Napoli said. “I watched when they clinched to go to the World Series and how crazy it was and seeing the fans in the streets where they had to have police escorts. You could just see the crowd just part ways.

“So it's going to be fun. It's something that I wanted to be a part of, and thought that it would be an unbelievable World Series.”