Bulls

Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

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Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

In his 13th full season, the 37-year-old Jamal Mayers played in 81 games and averaged just under 10 minutes per game playing primarily on the fourth line and seeing some time on the penalty-killing unit. Mayers scored six goals and had nine assists, finishing at minus-4. He accumulated 91 penalty minutes and delivered 102 hits. Mayers only played in three of the six playoff games, going minus-1 with five hits and zero points.

Boden's take: It was one of the curious twists in the playoff series with Phoenix: Jamal Mayers' benching after Game 3. He played his role almost to perfection during the entire regular season, missing just one game due to illness, protecting his teammates as well as anyone and guiding a lot of inexperienced linemates along. Joel Quenneville denied right after the season that it had anything to do with Mayers not going after Raffi Torres when his hit ended the season for Marian Hossa (Brandon Bollig jumped right in). Mayers won 56 percent of his faceoffs during the regular season, but struggled late and into the Coyotes series. Quenneville said he just wanted to give a different look with Brendan Morrison, who wound up playing his best hockey for the Hawks in Games 4, 5 and 6.

Myers' take: The Blackhawks, and especially Quenneville, knew what they were getting when they brought in Mayers this season: a tough, supporting-cast veteran who wasn't afraid to defend a teammate. He was the only one who did so when Jonathan Toews was getting smacked around by the San Jose Sharks back in February. But after filling the job duties during the regular season, Mayers was suddenly a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks' final three postseason games. Some wondered if Mayers was benched after not retaliating after Torres' hit on Hossa in Game 3 against the Coyotes, but Quenneville said that had nothing to do with the scratching. Whatever the reason, Mayers was out.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: Once Mayers finally talked about his benching, he placed the blame squarely on his shoulders for "putting himself" in a position where he was scratched, without providing further details. He was certainly worthy of re-signing to another one-year contract (costing just 550,000 last season), but the way things ended casts a dark cloud on his return. His offensive output was the same as it'd been the previous three years. Mayers definitely has some hockey left in him as he turns 38 in October. It just doesn't appear, at this point, to be a second straight year here. And right now, the center depth chart reads Toews, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Marcus Kruger.

Myers: Re-signing Mayers looked like a distinct possibility through the winter months. Now it seems doubtful for several reasons. The biggest was that postseason benching. Here are two more: (1) Mayers will turn 38 in the fall and the Blackhawks have younger guys (Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes), who can fill their sizeedge needs. (2) The Blackhawks have already re-signed younger agitator Daniel Carcillo, whom general manager Stan Bowman showered praise (without even being asked about the forward) on the season-ending media day.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Mayers above.

Up next: Viktor Stalberg

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.