Preps Talk

Bulls rout Sixers to open playoffs

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Bulls rout Sixers to open playoffs

Playing the first game of the entire NBA playoffs for the second consecutive postseason, the Bulls didnt experience any of their typical early-start issues they had a 2-6 record in matinee games during the regular season Saturday afternoon at the United Center, easily handling the 76ers 103-91, as Derrick Rose took a major step in returning to his previous form after an injury-plagued season.

However, despite taking a 1-0 first-round series lead in triumphant fashion, the games ending couldnt have been worse, as Rose suffered what was determined to be a season-ending torn ACL with 1:20 remaining in the contest and had to be helped off by the teams medical staff.

After Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday opened the games scoring with a triple, the hosts rattled off 10 unanswered points, as four of the teams five starters got on the board in the early going, led by All-Star Luol Deng. While the Sixers responded behind Elton Brand the veteran power forward is familiar with the confines from his stint with the Bulls, for whom he won Rookie of the Year honors shooting guard Rip Hamilton clearly looked poised for the postseason, as the former champion with the Pistons scored 11 first-quarter points.

Philadelphia was mostly forced to settle for contested outside jumpers, a staple of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus vaunted defense and thusly dug themselves an early hole. However, the insertion of some of Philadelphias dangerous reserves including Chicago native Evan Turner, who was booed by his hometown fans for comments perceived as disparaging the Bulls particularly athletic backup forward Thaddeus Young, sparked the visitors, who closed to within 28-24 at the conclusion of the opening period.

After the Sixers ran off the second quarters first four points to tie the contest, C.J. Watson, Roses understudy at point guard the reigning league MVP struggled with his shot in the previous frame, going 1-for-7, but snatched five rebounds, dished out three assists and most importantly, appeared healthy led a Bulls push to give the home team some breathing room. But the feisty guests stormed back, as Turner, playing in a point-forward role with one of the positions predecessors, Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, watching from courtside, was a major catalyst.

Although Brand continued his solid first-half play, he was countered by his fellow veteran Hamilton, whose ability to get out in transition was a boon for the Bulls with Rose still trying to find his groove, as well as center Joakim Noahs high activity level. Toward the end of the period, the Bulls lead ballooned to double figures, stemming from Roses emergence, as the All-Star point guard started knocking down shots, at one point making three in a row a driving layup, his patented floater and a pull-up jumper leading to the Bulls taking a 53-42 advantage into the intermission.

Turner, who started the second half in place of ineffective shooting guard Jodie Meeks, helped the Sixers cut the deficit to single digits, leading to a Thibodeau timeout for defensive adjustments. His strategy apparently worked, as the Bulls not only clamped down on defense, but the backcourt of Rose and Hamilton started to get off, pushing the hosts lead back to a comfortable double-digit margin and inciting a crowd that had been relatively quiet since the break.

A villain in his own hometown, Turner did nothing to help his image in Chicago, as he fouled Noah on a dunk attempt, got tangled up with Boozer resulting in technical on Rose, Hamilton and Brand after a mild skirmish and on the next possession, fouled Hamilton and briefly exchanged words before Deng pulled his teammate away. Aside from all of the hard feelings, the Bulls headed into the final stanza with a 79-66 edge, despite Philadelphia All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala finally making an impact.

The Bench Mob extended the Bulls lead, as designated sharpshooter Kyle Korver and always-energetic power forward Taj Gibson propelled the squad, holding off a potential Sixers run. Thibodeau would eventually reinsert Deng and Rose who was already flirting with a triple-double and while they both contributed with timely baskets, Korvers shooting, as well as the interior defense of Gibson and tag-team partner Omer Asik was the difference in the hosts advantage ballooning to a 20-point spread midway through the period.

Noah also rejoined the mix and resumed being a dominating force on the glass, while Korver continued to drain jumpers and the Bulls turned the games stretch run into extended garbage time. But with 1:20 on the clock, Rose drove to the basket and his knee buckled, causing him to lay prone on the floor in pain, as the United Center fell to a hush while the Bulls trainers assisted him off the court and he heavily favored his left knee, which would make it his sixth separate injury of difficult campaign, putting a damper on what was previously an afternoon filled with joy.

Chicago native Will Bynum to return to the BIG3 league

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USA TODAY

Chicago native Will Bynum to return to the BIG3 league

Chicago native Will Bynum is making a return to the Big 3 basketball league. Last year the 6-foot guard served as a co-captain for the team "Bivouac," and instantly became a fan-favorite as one of the most exciting players in the three-on-three league, where he set the single-game scoring record.

His BIG3 squad—coached by 1978 Bulls No. 9 overall pick Reggie Theus—went 4-4 last season and missed a playoff spot due to point differential. Bynum, who averaged 15.9 points per 36 minutes over an 8-year NBA career, showcased perhaps the best handles of anyone in the BIG3 and certainly broke out the best "Shammgod," hesitation dribble in the league's brief history. During his time in the BIG3, Bynum has shown off the same type of flashy playmaking and scoring prowess that made him a local legend at Crane high school.

Bynum's Bivouac squad is comprised of himself, 13-year NBA veteran Josh Smith and 10-year NBA veteran Marreese Speights. Smith was on the team last season, while Speights will be making his BIG3 debut. The 2020 BIG3 season kicks off on June 2020 in Memphis, Tennessee and they make their first stop in Chicago at the United Center on August 15. 

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Report: Bears have ‘been in touch’ with Bengals about Andy Dalton trade

Report: Bears have ‘been in touch’ with Bengals about Andy Dalton trade

As the Bears look to acquire a veteran quarterback to push Mitch Trubisky, one name that’s been thrown around is Andy Dalton.

According to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., the Bears have “been in touch” with the Bengals regarding a potential Dalton trade.

Dalton comes with a hefty cap hit ($17.5 million) and is only under contract through 2020, but Trubisky being on his rookie deal would help the Bears stomach his salary. The 32-year-old threw for 3,494 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season, sporting 78.3 passer rating.

Adding Dalton would give the Bears insurance in case Trubisky’s 2019 struggles persist next season. Dalton is an established veteran who is familiar with Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The two worked together from 2016-18, when Lazor was Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach (2016) and OC (2017-18).

Dehner’s report doesn't offer any specific packages the Bears and Bengals have discussed. However, barring a surprise, Cincinnati will select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the NFL draft in two months. Considering Burrow is set to become the Bengals’ quarterback of the future, trading Dalton will give him the chance to play elsewhere.

The Bears have made it clear Trubisky is entering 2020 as their starter. However, someone like Dalton could usurp him if the former No. 2 overall pick can’t find his footing this season.