Sixers limp into playoffs

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Sixers limp into playoffs

After taking control of the Atlantic Division throughout the beginning of the season, the Sixers crumpled after the All Star break, dropping into the Eastern Division's final seed as they head into the playoffs.

Even though Derrick Rose is still searching to regain his previous form, will the Bulls face an easy first round during the postseason?

StatsPre-All Star Break
Post-All Star Break
W-L20-1415-17PPG94.093.2Opponents' PPG
87.591.4

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

Jonathan Toews skated on Friday but will not make the trip as the Blackhawks prepared for their Saturday afternoon game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Toews skated before and during a portion of the Blackhawks’ practice on Friday morning but was not part of the lines. Coach Joel Quenneville said he liked what he saw from Toews, but they’ll give him some more time.

Reports were that Toews suffered a back injury. He was doing several back stretches on the ice following his individual work and practice with the team. The Blackhawks will re-evaluate Toews prior to Sunday, when they host the Winnipeg Jets.

“You gotta be fully recovered and want to make sure guys are 100 percent before they can play,” Quenneville said. “Jonny plays at a certain pace and it’s all out, so let’s make sure he’s more than ready when he’s coming back.”

Toews said if this were the postseason he would play through it. Since it isn’t, he wants to be sure he’s fully ready to go.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“It’s the type of thing most guys would be able to suck up and play if it were a playoff game and putting everything on the line. But at this point, with the amount of games left in the season, it’s not something you want to continuously deal with,” Toews said. “If you aggravate it, it’ll keep coming back to haunt you. It’s tough to hold back and do less than you know you can, but in the long run, trying to make sure I get back to 100 percent.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body) will play against the Flyers. With van Riemsdyk coming off injured reserve the Blackhawks will likely put Toews on it, retroactive to when he was injured (Nov. 23).

Marian Hossa did not practice on Friday but he was just taking the day off. He’s expected to play vs. Philadelphia.

Corey Crawford will start against the Flyers.

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

The White Sox could be open for business when the Winter Meetings begin on Sunday in Maryland, with ace left-hander Chris Sale likely to draw the most interest at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. 

The price for the five-time All-Star, of course, will be steep. ESPN’s Jayson Stark offered this as to just how steep it’ll be: To acquire Sale, a team will have to part with its No. 1 prospect plus at least two more players. 

The starting point for the White Sox, according to Stark, will be last offseason’s Shelby Miller trade in which the Arizona Diamondbacks sent former No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves to acquire the 26-year-old right-hander. 

Miller was coming off a strong season in 2015, in which he crossed the 200-inning threshold for the first time and posted a career best 3.02 ERA. But Miller hadn’t come close to establishing the success Sale has at the time of the trade, spending just three seasons in the starting rotations of the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals without eye-popping peripherals (he had a 4.54 FIP in 2014, for example). And the Braves still managed to swipe Swanson away from a Diamondbacks team that went all in for the 2016 season (and crashed to a 69-93 record with Miller having a 6.15 ERA). 

Only three pitchers — Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and David Price — have racked up more WAR than Sale (26.2) since the start of the 2012 season, and Sale is one of seven starters to have 1,000 or more strikeouts over the last five seasons, too. Durability hasn’t been an issue for Sale, either, as he’s tied for second in baseball with 14 complete games since 2012 (only behind Kershaw) and has thrown the 12th-most innings of any pitcher in the last five years, too. 

That’s the Cliff’s Notes version of why Sale will command such a high price. So that’s why, on MLB Network on Friday, Jon Heyman threw out the following names that could be discussed: Washington Nationals infielder/outfielder Trea Turner, Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman, Boston Red Sox outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Red Sox infielder Yoan Moncada. 

Not only are those guys top prospects, but every one them outside of Moncada has had more than a cup of coffee in the major leagues. Whether or not the White Sox could pry one of those players, or someone of their caliber, away from a team in a Sale trade remains to be seen. 

The price may come down, as Stark reported, but the starting point in the Sale sweepstakes certainly appears to be high.