Opening week of NBA season offers some revelations

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Opening week of NBA season offers some revelations

A week into the NBAs regular season, its become clear that certain assumptions made before the campaign starting are off the mark, at least in the easy going. For example, as the Bulls learned Tuesday night in outlasting the previously-undefeated Magic at the United Center, Orlandodespite a roster blending young, under-the-radar talented and veteran role players not regarded as primary optionswont be the leagues worst team.

Another observation that can be gleaned from watching the Bulls is the fact that Joakim Noah could make his debut All-Star appearance, as alluded to Wednesday by the Chicago Sun-Times. Even with the league removing the center designation from the ballot, Noahs all-around play and improved scoringprovided he remains consistent with that aspect of his gamecant be ignored and being that hes both a fan favorite and a player opposing coaches respect, it wouldnt be a surprise to see him in Houston come February, assuming he stays healthy and the Bulls are, at minimum, in playoff position.

Speaking of the Bulls postseason prospects, early as it may be, they got a boost when the news hit that Indianas go-to scorer, Danny Granger, will miss three months with ongoing knee issues. In the wake of Derrick Roses own injury, the Pacers were anointed the successor to throne in the Central Division, but the supposed up-and-coming squad has flawsincluding a retooled and possibly less effective bench and while power forward David West appears to be back to his pre-ACL form, no certified alpha dogeven aside from Grangers woes.

Elsewhere in the division: Clevelands promising young backcourt of surprise fourth overall draft pick Dion Waiters and last seasons Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, is exciting, but the Cavaliers dont yet have a roster to be taken seriously; Detroit has looked awful early on, though the young core of severely underrated big man Greg Monroe, second-year point guard Brandon Knight and raw, but talented center Andre Drummond is something for the Pistons to build upon; Milwaukees scoring-oriented backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis has better chemistry after an abbreviated season together and while the Bucks could challenge for a bottom playoff seed, they dont appear to be a team that upper-echelon opponents should truly fear.

As far as the rest of the East: Toronto, now anchored by the perennially-underrated Kyle Lowry, looks to be improved; New York got off to a fast start, sparked by defense and Carmelo Anthony dominating with Amar'e Stoudemire on the shelf; Boston continues to integrate its new pieces and is a work in progress, but has contender potential; and Miami, with Ray Allen fitting in seamlessly as an early Sixth Man of the Year candidate and Rashard Lewis showing that he still has something less in the tank, appears to be even better, now that they have the air of a champion, a defined style of play and improved three-point shooting.

Around the league, the incessant chatter about the Lakers ups and downsmostly the latter, with their exhibition struggles bleeding into the regular season, further compounded by Steve Nashs early-season injuryhas muffled some of the other storylines across the NBA. Out West, the Spurs have started quick and look poised to again be a juggernaut, the Clippers appear to be one of the leagues most talented teams and although the Nuggets have had early struggles, lack outside shooting and don't have a true go-to scorer, their athleticism and depth is scary. However, the most buzz has been generated by the blockbuster James Harden trade, a move that has changed the narrative surrounding the Thunder and elevated the Rockets back to relevancy.

Oklahoma City, the Bulls' opponent Thursday night, were declared winners of the deal by many observers--the structure of the current CBA forced the organization's hand, is the consensus--and because they received a 20 point-per-game scorer in Kevin Martin, there's no reason to for anybody to immediately hop off the bandwagon, though increased scrutiny will be paid to the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Meanwhile, acquiring Harden energized Houston, thought before the season began to be one of the league's worst teams on paper, as well as easing the pressure off free-agent signees Jeremy Lin and former Bulls backup center Omer Asik, as Harden's scoring--he scored 37 in his debut, followed up by a career-high 45, propelling him into being the NBA's top scorer on the young season--and playmaking have some thinking the Rockets could sneak into a bottom playoff spot in a Western Conference that suddenly appears much more wide-open with the Lakers' early struggles, Dirk Nowitzki being on the shelf for Dallas and expected postseason contender Minnesota hamstrung by injuries to young stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks knew their meeting against the Minnesota Wild two weeks ago was a critical contest. This one is right up there, too.

The Blackhawks are trying to keep pace with the front-running Wild, who are seven points ahead of them entering tonight's game.

"There's certainly always something to play for," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks are 10 points ahead of third-place St. Louis. "We want to keep getting better and we're starting to improve over this part of the season. But the point of importance of today's game and keeping it close is important for us, so we'll approach it that way. We were going into the break a week ago, and I'm sure it's an important game for them but it's an extremely important game for us."

Meanwhile the Wild will be trying to do tonight what the Blackhawks did on Feb. 11: go into their bye on a high note. The Wild haven't had many hiccups lately, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Devan Dubnyk will get the start as the Wild look to keep extending their lead.

"It's one of those games that's a great challenge for your group," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You're playing a team that's still won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years and they've been in every battle you can imagine. That team gets up for every important game, and I think they'll think this is an important game. It's just about being an athlete. It's one of those things, you love to play in these situations."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Tuesday marks the Wild's 59th game of the season; they had caught up to Chicago during the Blackhawks' bye week, yet will go into their break with a game in hand. Still, the Wild are ready for the respite.

"We're not complaining about it," Charlie Coyle said. "It's a little different, yeah, but in the long run it's going to help us. Just get this rest period, rest the legs, the body, [rest] mentally, come back and get ready for the grind. It's going to be crucial for us and we'll try to take advantage of it."

Matt Dumba (knee) could return to the Wild's lineup tonight but Boudreau wouldn't say for sure.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com and NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks

Forward lines
Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

Injuries/illnesses: None

Minnesota Wild

Forward lines
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart-Tyler Graovac-Jordan Schroeder

Defensive Pairs
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Gustav Olofsson-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Matt Dumba

Goaltender
Devan Dubnyk

Injuries/illnesses: None

CSN to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

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CSN to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

CSN, CSNChicago.com, and the NBC Sports app to carry LIVE coverage of the Class 1A-4A IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

from Redbird Arena in Normal, IL over the next two weekends

CSNChicago.com to also air highlight packages of all games throughout the weekend;

CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv to also live stream every post-game press conference

Chicago, IL (February 21, 2017) CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home of the IHSA Championships, will be airing LIVE cross-platform coverage of the 2017 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Girls Basketball State Championships on Friday, February 24 & Saturday, February 25 (Class 1A & 2A) and Friday, March 3 & Saturday, March 4 (Class 3A & 4A) from Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal, IL.  Over the next two weekends, Illinois preps hoops fans can look forward to seeing every action-packed semifinal, consolation and championship battle starting Friday at 11:00 AM CT featuring four, live semifinal match-ups, along with a pair of consolation and two huge state championship title games on Saturday.  Plus – EVERY game will be telecast in a high-definition (HD) format.  The 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships will be produced by the IHSA & PlayOn! Sports.

In addition -- EVERY IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship telecast will once again be streamed live on CSNChicago.com and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones.  Authenticated CSN Chicago subscribers can watch live IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships action from anywhere in the United States.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/live-faq .  

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Several IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship telecasts, which includes every Class 3A/4A semifinals/consolation/finals match-up, will air on CSN+ (available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER or IHSA.org for complete channel location details for ALL games throughout the state. 
  • CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv will also be providing fans with a live stream of every IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship post-game press conference. 
  • Fans can interact via Twitter throughout the entire weekend by utilizing the hashtag #IHSA to share their comments and showcase their school spirit for their favorite teams.   In addition, fans are urged to visit CSN’s official preps Twitter handle (@CSNPreps) for up-to-the-minute tournament news, scores, and more 24/7.

In addition, CSNChicago.com’s IHSA Preps section (csnchicago.com/preps) will feature highlight packages from all games over the next two weekends, plus – CSN viewers can look forward to a special championship editions of High School Lites on Friday, February 26 & Friday, March 4 (both nights live at 11:00 PM) for a complete rundown of every girls championship game, including expanded highlights and player/coaches interviews, along with the latest highlights and playoff scenarios for the upcoming IHSA Boys Basketball State Championships, which will take place the weekends of March 10-11 & March 17-18 at Carver Arena in Peoria, IL.  (NOTE: Full schedule details regarding CSN’s live coverage of the 2017 Boys Basketball State Championships will be announced the week of March 6.)

The following schedule details CSN’s coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships over the next two weekends (all times Central Time) (play-by-play/color analyst/sideline reporting teams are in parentheses):

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24

11:00 AM –      Class 1A Semifinal #1: Harvest Christian Academy (Elgin) vs. Annawan (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

12:45 PM –      Class 1A Semifinal #2: Unity (Mendon) vs. Calhoun (Hardin) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

5:30 PM –        Class 2A Semifinal #1: Byron vs. Central [Coop] (Camp Point) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

7:15 PM –        Class 2A Semifinal #2: St. Edward (Elgin) vs. Central Catholic (Bloomington) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25

11:00 AM –      Class 1A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

12:45 PM –      Class 1A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

5:30 PM –        Class 2A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

7:15 PM –        Class 2A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

FRIDAY, MARCH 3

11:00 AM –      Class 3A: SEMIFINAL #1 (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

12:45 PM –      Class 3A: SEMIFINAL #2 (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

5:30 PM –        Class 4A: SEMIFINAL #1 (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:15 PM –        Class 4A: SEMIFINAL #2 (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

SATURDAY, MARCH 4

11:00 AM –      Class 3A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

12:45 PM –      Class 3A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

5:30 PM –        Class 4A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:15 PM –        Class 4A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)