Chicago Fire

Word on the Street: Bulls most cost-effective NBA team

Word on the Street: Bulls most cost-effective NBA team

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Bulls spent their money wisely

According to a new Forbes survey, which calculates efficiency of NBA teams by looking at team payrolls and number of regular-season wins, the Bulls are the most cost-effective team for the 2010-11 season. The Oklahoma City Thunder were behind them, while the Toronto Raptors got the least bang for its buck. (usatoday.com)

Blackhawks blindsided by Canucks physical play?

According to one columnist in Vancouver, the Blackhawks didn't see the extreme physicality coming from the Canucks and it has turned the table on this series from the prior two seasons. He says it has left the Hawks upset, irate, distracted and unfocused.

"It took us off guard, we weren't prepared for it," John Scott admitted. "Mentally, it wears on us (out defensemen). Every time they get the puck, they're checking over their shoulders. They're not as effective if in the back of their mind they're thinking, 'Oh boy, I'm going to get hit.' " (vancouversun.com)

Pacers' Collison hopes to play in Game 3 vs. Bulls

Darren Collison hopes to play Thursday in Game 3 of the Bulls first-round series vs. Indiana. I dont know if hes going to be able to (play) or not, we have to go into preparing to be without him, Vogel said.

However, Collison sounded much more optimistic: If Im at 60-70 percent, Im going to play, he said. This is the playoffs. I was disappointed I couldnt get in the game in the second half, but its unfortunate it happened. (indystar.com)

Northwestern's Shurna enters NBA draft...

...but has not hired an agent yet. "This is an exciting opportunity for John and I fully support his decision," coach Bill Carmody said in a release. "It's a chance for him to pursue his dream and we look forward to helping him gather information throughout the process."

Shurna has the size and shooting touch that is often attractive to pro scouts. He's 6-foot-8, 217 pounds and was averaging 23.3 points per game when he hurt his ankle in the final non-conference game last season. If informed he's likely a first-round pick, he's expected to stay in the draft. (latimes.com)

Ex-Cubs, Sox Qualls awarded pension benefits

Jimmy Qualls, who played for both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, will be rewarded with health care and a pension for his brief time in MLB that resulted in 31 hits and ended in 1972.

Qualls is among 870 former major-leaguers who will be covered by an agreement between ownership and the players union. Qualls broke up Tom Seaver's perfect game against the Cubs in 1969. (chicagobreakingsports.com)

With push for playoff seeding in full force, Fire head to Philadelphia with key absences

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With push for playoff seeding in full force, Fire head to Philadelphia with key absences

There aren’t many easy games left on the Fire’s schedule, but Saturday’s game in Philadelphia appears to be one of the more winnable games remaining even if it is on the road.

The Union have a respectable 7-4-3 home record, but are out of the playoff race and are winless in six straight. The Fire hope to pick up a second straight road win, keep pace with New York City FC and stay ahead of red-hot Atlanta in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The game will be televised on CSN+ (channel finder) with coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

While on paper the game is winnable, the Fire will once again be significantly shorthanded in midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho are both out with injuries. Schweinsteiger will miss his third straight game while Juninho will be out for two in a row. The Fire beat D.C. United 3-0 with Dax McCarty pairing with Drew Conner in central midfield last weekend.

With Joao Meira returning from injury as a sub in that win against D.C., coach Veljko Paunovic could run a similar lineup to the one from last week or elect to go with three centerbacks in an altered formation. Either way, the Fire remain without key pieces during a time of year when the team wants to be hitting its peak with the playoffs just over a month away.

“You want to get your top 11 group on the field together so they can get games, but if that’s not the case then you can also get guys experience and you can get younger guys in games that mean something and that matter because there’s no substitute for experience,” McCarty said. “You can’t replicate that in training. Guys like Drew Conner, guys like Djordje (Mihailovic). Those guys that are going to be very important for us in our playoff push and our depth heading into the playoffs.

“That’s the reason why depth is so important in MLS because while you would love to be able to count on your first 11 every single time you step on the field, (but) that’s not the case. I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season. I don’t think we’ve had our first 11 group on the field together for months so you want depth and obviously it’s important to get guys healthy."

The extent of Schweinsteiger’s injuries hasn’t been clear. He had a bruise on his calf from a collision during the match in Montreal on Sept. 2, but also has a thigh injury. Schweinsteiger appeared to be nearing a return last week when he was running and working out in training separate from the group, but he was not at training on Tuesday or Wednesday this week, which implied a setback.

When asked about Schweinsteiger’s status, Paunovic has remained coy.

“Basti is very important for the team,” Paunovic said. “We want him as soon as possible. We will provide all the help that we can. As soon as we can have him back it’s going to be very important for the team. Also during that time we have guys who are prepared and ready and want to step in.”

Everyone knows he is a key absence, but the team has a solid 2-1-3 record without him this year.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see the positive attributes that he brings to the team,” McCarty said of Schweinsteiger. “He’s been one of our best players and obviously he’s a focal point for the way that we do things, not only defensively, but attacking as well. He’s a guy who teams have to account for whenever he’s on the ball. His vision, his ability to make plays within the game, knowing what the game needs and what time, you can’t substitute that. It makes my job easier, it makes our strikers’ jobs easier, so it’s a big loss not having him on the field.”

Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union

Where: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Penn.)

TV: CSN + (channel finder)

When: Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (14-9-6, 48 points), Union (8-12-9, 33 points)

Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

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Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

On this edition of Nerds in Sports, we talk with io9.com senior editor Rob Bricken.

Rob explains how he juggles being a fan with being a ‘professional’ nerd, how he came to run io9.com, plus his theory on why Rey’s parents are in Star Wars may shock you.

Kevin Anderson and Michael Piff co-host. We are Nerds. In sports.

Listen to the Nerds in Sports Podcast here.