It's the Midwest's turn for exhibition games

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It's the Midwest's turn for exhibition games

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011
Posted: 2:54 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Follow @CSNBullsInsider
For all of the basketball being played these days, one would hardly know there's a lockout.

At this point during a normal offseason, most players are holed up in individual workouts in preparation for training camp, international players -- some of whom likely opted to participate for their national teams because of the work stoppage, not to mention Olympic qualification -- excluded. But even domestically, there have been a rash of pro-am exhibition games and as non-NBA American players begin to depart for their overseas jobs, NBA-only contests, as well as the anticipated Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas.

The majority of the high-profile events have been based on the East Coast, but the Midwest will finally get a taste of spotlight later this month. On Sept. 24, Indianapolis' Butler University will host an affair pitting the Indy Pro-Am against the Washington, D.C.-based Goodman League -- the same outfit that took on both the Los Angeles-based Drew League and a Baltimore-based "Melo League" squad featuring LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul -- last month, CSNChicago.com confirmed with Indy Pro-Am founder Carlos Knox.

Knox said he expects Indy Pro-Am participants such as Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, former Butler star and Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward, Jazz first-round draft pick Alec Burks, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, Pacers guard and Indianapolis native George Hill and Wizards draft pick Shelvin Mack, another recent Butler product, to participate. On the Goodman end, reigning two-time NBA scoring champion and Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, a Washington native, and Wizards star John Wall are the reported headliners.

Being that Indianapolis is only an approximately three-hour drive away, it might be the closest Chicago will get to a high-profile exhibition -- even without labor negotiations as of yet resolved, look for several of these events to crop up this month, before the official opening of NBA training camps officially open in October -- this offseason, for the time being.

Knox, whose league was quietly one of the better pro-am summer events in the country and featured NBA players (and was free to the public), let it be known that he's open to Bulls players engaging in regional pride -- putting aside a conference rivalry with the Pacers, let alone the heated first-round matchup last spring -- to suit up for Indianapolis. Given Derrick Rose's adamant stance about not playing in pro-am or summer-league games -- although he did take part in a barnstorming trip to the Philippines earlier this summer -- he's a longshot to play. Besides the high-flying league MVP, in your opinion, which Bulls players would fare best in a free-flowing, laissez-faire, decidedly un-Thibsesque streetball setting?

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 6

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls battle Celtics in Game 6

Watch as the Bulls take on the Celtics tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls 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 Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. The point guard carousel. It's been something to watch all year, and with the Bulls desparately searching for answers it will continue to be one heading into Game 6. Isaiah Canaan actually played well against Isaiah Thomas, and Dwyane Wade looked comfortable initiating the offense. That'll need to continue simply for the Bulls to have a chance, with Rajon Rondo ruled out for the game.

2. What's Jimmy Butler's health status? Jimmy Butler attempted just two free throws in the fourth quarter of Game 5. He only went to the free throw line one time, in the second quarter. This goes without saying, but the Bulls' only chance to win Games 6 and 7 is for Butler to be playing like his old self. With his back against the wall, maybe we'll see that "Jimmy Game" where he wins it by himself.

3. Is Isaiah Thomas heating up? The smallest player on the court is starting to heat up in the series. While his shooting hasn't been great, he was super in Game 3, took over in Game 4 and made plenty of plays in Game 5 that led to a win. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see him continue this, as his eyes seem to light up every trip down the floor with Rondo on the sideline.

4. Who's the next surprise contributor? Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser, Isaiah Canaan and now Anthony Morrow have all made surprising contributions in the series. At this point that's what it's going to take to compete against a deep Celtics team that's healthy and rolling with some momentum. Could it be Cris Felicio playing big? Perhaps Portis gets hot again from deep? Either way, it's got to be someone helping Butler and Wade.

5. The Bulls' backs are against the wall. It's simple. Win or go home. How will the Bulls respond in this type of situation, with Boston holding all the momentum and looking to end this before it goes back to Boston for a do-or-die Game 7. The Bulls don't have a lot of pressure on them from a national standpoint, but you can bet their expectations for themselves are large. How they respond early will say a lot about the job Fred Hoiberg did getting them ready.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Bulls: All of the most recent news and notes

Dwyane Wade named finalist for Best Style in NBA Awards

Dwyane Wade named finalist for Best Style in NBA Awards

Dwyane Wade's return to Chicago hasn't always gone according to plan this year, but the veteran is listed as a finalist for the first-ever NBA Awards.

Wade is among the three finalists for Best Style alongside Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Iman Shumpert of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The inaugural NBA Awards will air June 26 on TNT at 8 p.m. Chicago time.

Besides Best Style, the fan-voted categories include Dunk of the Year, Block of the Year, Assist of the Year, Game Winner of the Year and Top Performance of the Year.

Fans can vote on social media or head to NBA.com/NBAAwards.

Wade has flashed his style on the red carpet over the years alongside actress wife Gabrielle Union: