Preps Talk

NBA Power Rankings: NBA Finals rematch on deck?

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NBA Power Rankings: NBA Finals rematch on deck?

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 5 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

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Five-game winning streak pushes them to No. 1.
Mark:Point-differential (9.8) best in the NBA by more than a point (NYK: 8.2)
2
Tony:Hottest team in the NBA, led by Mr. Sportsman of the Year.
Mark:Best record in the West, and maybe the best defense in the NBA.
3
Tony:Nearly unbeatable at home (8-1).
Mark:Westbrook's improvement nearly as impressive as Durant's.
4
Tony:Only lost by 5 to Heat on the road without 4 best players? This is a good team.
Mark:Thursday night's game in Miami will be a good test.
5
Tony:Carmelo will definitely be getting some MVP votes.
Mark:Hey, Stern: The rest worked. Spurs beat Memphis in overtime on Saturday.
6
Tony:Basketball is back in the Big Apple.
Mark: Three-game win streak after losing four in a row after last week.7
Tony:Still hot, but just not as sizzling as teams above them.
Mark:Blatche has played well in Lopez's absence.8
Tony:Remember, they're doing this all without Bynum.
Mark:Evan Turner may be the league's most improved player.
9
Tony:Cracking the Top 10, and they deserve it.
Mark:Won six in a row before a home loss to the Cavaliers. Huh?
10
Tony:Getting hot as season picks up. 7-3 since 2-2 start.
Mark:Stephen Curry's ankles look healthy...for now.
11
Tony:Still hovering around .500. Will age catch up to them?
Mark:Losses at Utah, Golden State and Los Angeles were disappointing for talented roster.
12
Tony:Very well balanced team just hitting its stride.
Mark:Rondo coming back after two-game suspension.
13
Tony:Clawed their way back to over .500.
Mark:Belinelli, Butler need to step up while Hamilton recovers from foot injury.
14
Tony:This is just getting sad now.
Mark:Larry Sanders quietly third in the league in blocks per game (3.0).
15
Tony:Just gotta stay afloat 'til Dirk returns.
Mark:Pau is out withtendinitis, but he wasn't doing much in D'Antoni's system.16
Tony:They'll continue to stay alive in what will prove to be close Central race.
Mark:Won four of their last five, all at home.
17
Tony:Bad news about Favors, just as he was coming into his own.
Mark:Lucky to be in the Central, where they're still competing with Granger on the bench.
18
Tony:Still underperforming, but right in the thick of playoff chase.
Mark:Nice revenge win last week against Los Angeles for Randy Foye, Mo Williams.
19
Tony:Omer Asik is a double-double every night.
Mark:Rubio likely less than two weeks away.
20
Tony:Love is back, Rubio on the way.
Mark:They've lost 4 of 6, and now head to the West coast.
21
Tony:Starting to revert back to form with four-game losing streak.
Mark:Back-to-back overtime wins at CLE and CHA after losing four in a row. Not great.
22
Tony:Finding a way to win some close games so far.
Mark:Have now lost four in a row, and five of six.
23
Tony:Allowing the most points per game in NBA.
Mark:Nice road wins over Los Angeles and Golden State to start five-game roadtrip.
24
Tony:Have quietly started another winning streak.
Mark:Three-game losing streak, and the schedule gets tougher from here.
25
Tony:They've really turned things around in a hurry.
Mark:Now have a winning record (6-5) since winless start through eight games.
26
Tony:Have lost 9 of 11 since 3-2 start.
Mark:Anthony Davis injuries starting to be a concern?
27
Tony:Having real issues distributing on offense (last in NBA in assists per game).
Mark:The fourth Jonas brother, Valanciunas, is improving each week.
28
Tony:Have dropped 7 of 8 as inconsistency shows.
Mark:Isaiah Thomas a real disappointment early this season.
29
Tony:They just look lost without Kyrie.
Mark:Anderson Varejao will be an enticing trade candidate at the deadline.
30
Tony:Hey! They won a game!
Mark:Injuries continue to decimate an already-shallow roster.

High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

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High School Lites Week 9 football roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups. Some playoff dreams came to fruition while others crashed and burned. 

Watch tomorrow as the IHSA playoff brackets are revealed tomorrow on NBC Sports Chicago+ at 8 p.m. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie Ridge: Episode 10

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Back of the Yards QB Jeremiah Harris

St. Xavier Team of the Week: De La Salle Meteors

Friday's Top 25 Games

No. 1 Lincoln-Way East 18, No. 19 Bolingbrook 14 

No. 2 Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 14

No. 3 Maine South 56, Niles West 9

No. 4 Marist 42, Joliet Catholic 14

No. 5 Lake Zurich , Mundelein

No. 6 Phillips 53, Clark 0

No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 50, Sandburg 14

No. 10 Barrington 40, Conant 19

No. 11 Huntley 45, McHenry 7

No. 12 Naperville Central 35, Lake Park 21

No. 13 Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 14

No. 24 St. Charles North 35, No. 14 Batavia 28

No. 16 Wheaton North 20, Waubonsie Valley 10

No. 17 Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8

No. 18 St. Rita 47, Marmion 14

No. 20 Lyons 31, Oak Park-River Forest 14

No. 21 Nazareth 48, Marian Catholic 7

No. 22 Oswego 30, Plainfield Central 0

Mount Carmel 35, No. 23 Providence 34

Other Highlights

Tinley Park 29, Evergreen Park 0

T.F. South 21, Oak Forest 14

Glenbard North 24, Neuqua Valley 14

St. Edward 29, Wheaton Academy 28

Marian Central Catholic 44, St. Patrick 21

Saturday's Top 25 Games

No. 7 Loyola vs. Brother Rice

No. 8 Glenbard West vs. Proviso West

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.