NBA Power Rankings: West dominance

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NBA Power Rankings: West dominance

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 11 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 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7 Week 8 Week 10 Week 11

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Durant is just flat out ridiculous.
Mark: The NBA Gods owe us another Thunder-Heat Finals.
2
Tony: Amazing that they didn't miss a beat with CP3 out.
Mark: The NBA Gods also owe us Thunder-Clippers in the Western Finals.
3
Tony: Tony Parker is having the best season of his career at age 30.
Mark: Danny Green needs to step up, but Duncan remains fantastic at 36.
4
Tony: Man, they really have the Bulls' number this year.
Mark: Heat won't move Chris Bosh, but interested to see how Birdman fits in middle.
5
Tony: LeBron has taken complete ownership of this team.
Mark: BIG overtime win over the Thunder on Sunday. Watch out for the Nugs.
6
Tony: Steph Curry's return is a huge boon. Can't afford to lose him.
Mark: Those defensive matchups like the one in Chicago on Saturday are fun.7
Tony: Felton supposedly coming back soon. Will be a boost.
Mark:Tyson Chandler's numbers being overshadowed by Melo's career year.8
Tony: Proving they're a legitimate contender with solid last couple of weeks.
Mark: Good to see Steph Curry back; Marc Jackson should be coach of the year.
9
Tony: D-Will is money at the charity stripe.
Mark: Could be the hottest team in the league right now.
10
Tony: George looks like a beast some nights, a non-factor others.
Mark: Nate can be one big headache at times, and win you games the next night.
11
Tony: Gritting out wins in Rose's absence.
Mark: Boylan seems to understand the roster better, or the team is rejuvenated post-Skiles.
12
Tony: Are they really more than just a .500 team?
Mark: Playing well, but I have concerns about how Granger could mess with George's game.
13
Tony: If Sullinger maintains production, will be key role player.
Mark: Could be one of the busiest teams at this year's trade deadline (Jefferson, Millsap).
14
Tony: Sanders has turned into a bonafide stud. Just has to improve offensive game.
Mark: Continue to fade fast, and losing Lou Williams (torn ACL) won't help matters.
15
Tony: Very good at home, but bad (9-11) on the road.
Mark: Three-game losing streak right after they looked to be turning the corner.
16
Tony: Batum playing heavy minutes in breakout year, but can't seem to stay healthy.
Mark: The pieces are there when healthy; a healthy Rubio may carry them to playoffs.
17
Tony: Lost 7 straight, but somehow still in 8-seed in West.
Mark: Terrible January after being the biggest surprise of the 2012 calendar.
18
Tony: What happened to the positive momentum they gained last season?
Mark: Worst bench in the league means starters won't make it all year.
19
Tony: Love still has 2 months until he's back on the court. Sigh.
Mark: Dirk hasn't been the guy the Mavs have needed, but they're not out of the hunt yet.
20
Tony: Really didn't see this poor season coming, you guys.
Mark: The Lakers in the Lottery. Sounds weird, but likely to happen.
21
Tony: Can Cousins stay out of trouble?
Mark:Have fun in Seattle, DeMarcus.
22
Tony: Just getting sad now. But only 3 games out of playoffs.
Mark: Time to get Andre Drummond more minutes, Detroit.
23
Tony: Would've been completely different season if Gordon starts healthy.
Mark:Bynum looks ready to return after the All-Star break; if that's the case, don't count them out.
24
Tony: Monroe is a stud, but players around him just too inconsistent.
Mark: Finally out of the cellar in the West, and have won 7 of 10.
25
Tony: 4-17 record in the US, but 11-9 in Canada.
Mark: Do they have to move Lowry or Calderon?
26
Tony: What's their plan for the future? 'Cause it's time to start thinking about that.
Mark:Unleash Moe Harkless!
27
Tony: Taken over the crown as the worst team in the west.
Mark:Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is only 19, but he's been a disappointment as the No. 2 pick.
28
Tony: Giving them the nod over WAS because of wins alone.
Mark: Varejao done for the year, but probably a good thing to rest his knee.
29
Tony: Wall is a big boost, but he can't do it all himself.
Mark: In the last 10 games, have doubled their win totals.
30
Tony: Kemba's rekindled early-season success, but not leading to any more wins.
Mark: Firing Alvin Gentry wasn't the answer, but it had to happen. Rock-bottom in PHX.

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.”