Butler puts away school ties for new rivalry

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Butler puts away school ties for new rivalry

Bulls rookie swingman Jimmy Butler isnt conflicted. Although hes a loyal Marquette University product, when the Heat visit the United Center, he wont feel much allegiance to his fellow ex-Golden Eagle, Dwyane Wade.

That doesnt mean Butler suddenly hates the All-Star shooting guard and arguably biggest star ever produced by the Milwaukee school.

Still got Marquette love for each other, Butler insisted, following the teams Tuesday-afternoon practice at the Berto Center. I think thats one and the same for everybody who goes through there.

We ran open gym out there at Marquette, did Midnight Madness together, so weve played a little bit together, nothing major, he continued. But look at him: He works really, really hard obviously, so hes constantly working out. But good dude. Very, very good dude.

Butler hasnt played with Wade extensively, but when he did have the opportunity to participate with and observe the Chicago native, particularly during the NBA lockout, he came away impressed.

Ive watched him work out a few times and dude can play, the rookie told CSNChicago.com. He goes hard in everything and he knows where he wants to get on the floor, and he works on the shots that hes going to take, so I think thats big. He can do a lot of different things, but he knows what hes good at, so when hes really, really good at something, he wants to perfect that.

Despite the rivalry between their respective teams, Wade even gave Butler some advice.

What everybody tells me: Go hard, stay inside of my game, Butler recounted. I think thats what got me there, so thats whats going to keep me here.

Butler has seen more playing time with Luol Deng currently sidelined to rest his ailing left wrist, but while Deng practiced Tuesday and could return for Wednesdays showdown, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau insisted, Were not afraid to put him out there, when asked about Butler.

More than likely, that means hed be matched up with fellow small forward LeBron James a challenge unto itself; Butler quipped, Try to stop him from scoring, when asked about his potential strategy to defend James but its not inconceivable that if he sees playing time, he could also guard Wade, something he has limited experience with.

At first, it was kind of nerve-wracking because it was him. Both pros now, but Im going to fight, just like everyone else does. Im not intimidated, but its a grind, thats for sure. Great player, so Ive got to give it my all, he said. Who knows? Well find out soon, I guess. A lot more studying to do, working with Griff, learning from Lu, so well find out soon.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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