NBA Power Rankings: Thunder making some noise

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NBA Power Rankings: Thunder making some noise

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 7 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony: Watch out now, the Serge Protector has an offensive game.
Mark: 11 wins in a row, showing no signs of slowing down.
2
Tony: Blake Griffin and Co. have rattled off 10 straight now.
Mark: Carmelo may be MVP, but Tyson just as valuable to Knicks.
3
Tony: Tony Parker is playing at an MVP level.
Mark: 10 straight victoriesat least one team in L.A. is winning.
4
Tony: Still holding off Miami as the beasts of the East.
Mark: Now Tony Parker is triple-doubling? These guys never get old.
5
Tony: They need Dwyane Wade to stay on the court consistently.
Mark: Chris Bosh having another underrated yet efficient year.
6
Tony: Not as hot as other teams in the West, but a bonafide contender.
Mark: Slowly coming back down to Earth, but still talented.7
Tony: Winning streak came to an end, but have still won 8 of 10.
Mark: Stephen Curry should be an All-Star for the first time this year.8
Tony: Surprisingly boast leagues 7th best D in pts allowed.
Mark: HorfordSmith frontcourt has been dominant so far.9
Tony: Bench has been coming to play, Mon. night in MEM notwithstanding.
Mark: Looking better each week, but Hinrich needs to stay healthy.
10
Tony: Rubio back, Love looking like a stud again. All is well in Minny.
Mark: Brook Lopez is back at the perfect time (ASAP).
11
Tony: D-Will calling out his coach? Uh oh.
Mark: Ricky Rubio was great in return from ACL surgery.
12
Tony: Need some frontcourt help. Last in league in rebounding.
Mark: Quietly have won seven of last 10.
13
Tony: Really like this squad, and they're starting to gel.
Mark: Ersan Ilyosova showing signs of life is great news for Bucks.
14
Tony: We all know George can get hot, but can he be consistent?
Mark: Back over .500 (13-12) for first time since Nov. 23.
15
Tony: Ersan Ilyasova coming up just when Bucks need it.
Mark: One of two teams (Milwaukee) with a winning record and negative point differential.16
Tony: See? They rely on Jrue Holiday so much.
Mark: Brutal four-game roadtrip awaiting Utah (BRK, IND, MIA, ORL).
17
Tony: If they can shore up their D, they may join ranks of elite.
Mark: Philly hoping for good news on Andrew Bynums MRI this week.
18
Tony: Just look like a completely different team without Dirk.
Mark: 12th in the West is the season ended today.
19
Tony: Lin starred in return to NY, but he has no consistency.
Mark: Could sneak into the playoffs as players continue to get comfortable playing together.
20
Tony: Can't hack it when one or two guys go down to injury.
Mark: Damian Lillard is your current Rookie of the Year, and its not close.
21
Tony: Already talking trades? Alright.
Mark: Just 4-10 on the road, and play 8 of next 13 away from Dallas.
22
Tony: When Nash comes back, run offense through him.
Mark: 2-0 week on the heels of losing seven in a row.
23
Tony: If they have Gortat, why not at least utilize him?
Mark: Impressive win over Golden State was part of 2-0 week.
24
Tony: Rough luck this season for Lowry and Co. thus far.
Mark: Trade candidate Jose Calderon will lead a contender down the stretch. Book it.
25
Tony: I like this Drummond kid. Could be dynamic duo with Monroe.
Mark: Roller coaster continues after losing four straight.
26
Tony: Man, they're sinking faster than the Titanic. This is sad.
Mark: Isaiah Thomas showing signs of life off the bench.
27
Tony: Feel bad for fans in Sacremento. No hope on horizon.
Mark: Losers of 11 straight, even Kemba cant straighten it out.
28
Tony: Kyrie's back! And he's dropping 40.
Mark: Irvings mask is a thing of beauty, and its the same dominant player behind it.
29
Tony: Vasquez is putting up solid numbers, but needs to improve efficiency.
Mark: Anthony Davis has lost his grip on Rookie of the Year honors.
30
Tony: Not even an exorcism could help this team.
Mark: Bradley Beal and Jordan Crawford will work well when John Wall returns.

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Fire to resume U.S. Open Cup at packed house in Cincinnati

Since arriving this winter, Dax McCarty has been the one to raise the expectations for the Chicago Fire and continued to do so after the Fire beat Orlando.

He raised the question to himself if it was realistic for the Fire to win MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and the U.S. Open Cup and he said “Why not?”

The Fire’s U.S. Open Cup hopes take center stage on Wednesday when the team plays at FC Cincinnati in the round of 16. The Fire beat Saint Louis FC in the team’s first match in the tournament and even though Cincinnati is another USL team like St. Louis, things should be different.

Cincinnati is trying to showcase itself as a future MLS market and had a crowd of 30,160 for the 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew last round, which was a record for a U.S. Open Cup match played before the final. Another big crowd is expected when the Fire come to Nippert Stadium.

While cities like St. Louis and San Diego have run into trouble getting stadium deals done, Cincinnati has only had positive momentum so far in the expansion process. For example, there’s a story from USSoccer.com saying Cincinnati is the capital of American soccer.

Cincinnati’s ambition is clear in the statement from team president and general manager Jeff Berding when it was announced that Wednesday’s match will be broadcast on national TV.

“We look forward to showing off our great city as the hottest new soccer market to the rest of country,” Berding said.

To add to the spectacle of the match, a local brewery from each city placed a bet on the match in the name of charity.

The Fire brought mostly a first choice lineup to Missouri in the win last round. Of the Fire’s most common starters, only Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic and Joao Meira sat out.

This time around Accam and McCarty will be out with their national teams. Nikolic did travel this time around.

The two teams met in the preseason, with the Fire winning 3-2 back on Feb. 22.

Cincinnati features a pair of former Fire players in Austin Berry (2012 MLS Rookie of the Year) and Corben Bone. Cincinnati is 5-5-5 in the USL this season, but as coach Alan Koch said after the team beat Columbus, “The beauty of cup soccer is anything can happen in one game.”

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

Cubs will make statement with trip to Donald Trump's White House

WASHINGTON — Within a matter of days last November, the Cubs won a staggering World Series for the first time in 108 years and Donald Trump won a scathing election to become the 45th president.

Those two surreal worlds will collide again on Wednesday when a group of Cubs get a private White House tour that can be interpreted as a political statement, something larger than this four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

This comes less than six months after the Cubs enjoyed an East Room ceremony that became the final official event at Barack Obama’s White House, at a polarizing time when speculation centered on whether or not the Golden State Warriors would skip the traditional photo op with Trump, not wanting to make an implicit endorsement after winning another NBA title.

“You’d have to talk to the Warriors,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “To go tomorrow is out of respect to the Ricketts family and to the office and the building itself. Listen, I like the United States a lot. I like living here a lot. And I like everything that it represents a lot.

“So when you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go. I think you go. Whether you like the person that’s running the country or not — out of respect to the office itself — you go.

“I don’t agree with all the other banter that’s going on right now, because I have a different perspective.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts and his brother, Todd, a board member who withdrew his nomination to become Trump’s deputy commerce secretary, brought the World Series trophy to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and did a meet and greet with Illinois Congressional staffers at the Russell Senate Office Building.

Within the Ricketts family/Cubs board of directors, Pete is Nebraska’s Republican governor and Laura was a superdelegate and a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein is also active in Democratic circles.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Maddon also plans to attend a luncheon on Wednesday with young Republicans organized by Congressman Lou Barletta, an old buddy from growing up in Hazleton, Penn., and an early Trump endorser.

“It’s not as ceremonial as the last one was, going there as the World Series champions,” Maddon said. “It’s more based on the Ricketts family relationship and the crowd that’s going to the White House.

“The Ricketts family’s been tied in there really well ... so wherever Mr. Ricketts would like me to go, I’m going to do (it). Mr. Ricketts and the Ricketts family has been good to all of us, so part of that is that.

“The other part is whenever you have a chance to go to the White House, I think it’s easy to say yes out of respect to the office and the building itself.”

Maddon didn’t know if meeting Trump would be on the itinerary and said he understood if some players passed on the invite.

“I don’t have any rules to begin with,” Maddon said. “I just want you to run hard to first base. As long as you run hard to first base, they can make up their own mind whether they want to go to the White House or not.

“Furthermore, not having to wear a suit, I think, is the best part of this whole trip, because, to me, to have to dress a certain way to impress somebody, my God, nobody would ever fail. So I’m all about all of the circumstances right now.”

Maddon didn’t sound at all concerned about the optics of visiting the White House at a time of travel bans, sub-40 percent approval ratings and investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, or meeting with a president who compared Chicago to Afghanistan.

“I like living here a lot,” Maddon said. “I like this country a lot. And I would much prefer living here than some of the other places that adopt different methods of government.

“I think sometimes that gets confused when people want to take a stand and not really realizing actually what we have, which is a lot better than most every place else.”