Blackhawks

Noah 'most likely' out for Game 4; Thibodeau still confident

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Noah 'most likely' out for Game 4; Thibodeau still confident

PHILADELPHIAJoakim Noahs left-ankle injury isnt as bad as some feared initially there was speculation that the gruesome injury, suffered in the third quarter of Friday nights Game 3 loss to the 76ers, was a fracture, but postgame x-rays were negative but the Bulls center does have a sprain and is doubtful for Sundays Game 4 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Most likely, hell be out tomorrow, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday afternoon following a film session at the teams hotel. I havent gotten the grade yet, but its doubtful. Well see tomorrow, though.

Thibodeau, in his typical fashion, said Noahs status is day-to-day and whether backup center Omer Asik is a game-time decision, and although most observers are counting the Bulls, down 2-1 in the first-round series, out with superstar Derrick Rose was lost to a season-ending knee injury in Game 1 and now Noah who morosely hobbled through the hotel lobby on crutches and wearing a cast on his ankle unlikely to return, the coach is sticking to the mantras hes consistently preached all season.

Like Ive said all along, we feel we have more than enough. Next guy up. Got to get the job done, he said. Injuries are part of the game. We have more than enough to win with. Weve got good, quality depth. Were down 2-1 in the series. Weve got to find a way to win tomorrow.

It happens. You deal with injuries. Next guy has an opportunity to rise up and thats the way we have to look at it, and thats the challenge we all face right now. The game tomorrow, weve all got to get ready and we have an opportunity to rise, and thats what we have to do, continued the coach, who downplayed comparisons to the Knicks team he was an assistant for in 1999, the last lockout-shortened NBA campaign, during which New York advanced to the NBA Finals after star center Patrick Ewing was injured in the conference finals. Obviously I think theres always disappointment when you lose and I think thats a good thing. I think that tells you that you have the right players. I think the big thing is how we respond, to have the determination tomorrow to get the job done and I want us to have greater fight tomorrow.

Though Asik is quietly considered one of the upper-echelon defensive centers in the league, the second-year pro and native of Turkey is a light scorer, to say the least, and isnt used to playing heavy minutes. Fortunately, Philadelphia is a smaller team with only one post player possessing the size of a true center in perimeter-oriented Spencer Hawes, so the Bulls might be able to get away with playing power forwards Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer in the pivot to match up with either rookie Lavoy Allen, a natural power forward, or veteran Elton Brand when he slides over to center, as well as All-Star small forward Luol Deng at power forward when Sixers reserve Thaddeus Young is in the game.

Omer obviously can handle that position, but Taj has played both positions, so it gives you versatility there. So, we feel like well be OK, Thibodeau explained. We still have three bigs and we also have Scal, so we feel like we have more than enough.

Omer, hes better offensively than hes given credit for because of his rebounding, offensive rebounding, and his screening, and hes also a very underrated passer, he continued. Hes not accustomed to playing the starters minutes, so thatll be a little bit of an adjustment, but Taj has played a lot, Carlos, we can extend his minutes some and then we have the ability to put Luol at the four also.

Thibodeau also discussed the process that led to Noah returning to Fridays contest early in the fourth quarter after first being injured in the third period.

He thought he could go. Sometimes you can get through it. Obviously he was struggling, said Thibodeau, who noted that he wanted to his team to commit a foul to stop the clock and make a substitution as soon as he noticed how badly Noah was laboring. He just twisted his ankle and he has to be cleared by Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi. Fred clears him and we give it a go. Of course, hes got to want to play. If he feels hes able to play, he shows Fred that he can play or thinks he can give it a shot, then you do so and then, if not, then you dont.

Im relying on Fred. The games going on and I ask him if he can go or not go, so thats usually how it works, he added. Most guys, you can tell whether they feel like they can go or not go, but you just rely on your medical staff for that stuff.

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Sunday afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers released their Phase 3 training camp roster. Training camps begin on Monday for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs under the league's Return To Play program. 

The Blackhawks, who were at No. 12 in the Western Conference at the time of the NHL pause on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will face the No. 5 Oilers starting Aug. 1 at Edmonton in a best-of-five qualifying round. 

Related: Oiler's Mike Green opts out of NHL's Return To Play program

Edmonton invited 33 players to attend their Return To Play camp.

Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl headline the team's roster. Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith are among the five goalies listed.

Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton's ICE District hub to prepare for the postseason tournament on July 26.

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Trey Lance to the Bears? This 2021 mock draft thinks so

Trey Lance to the Bears? This 2021 mock draft thinks so

Barring some kind of career-year from Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles, the 2021 NFL Draft will likely center around quarterback for the Chicago Bears. And while that's not necessarily good news for Bears fans, it could be worse. Next year's draft class will have a handful of quality quarterbacks with first-round grades.

In the latest mock draft from The Draft Wire, the Bears spend their first-round pick on North Dakota State darling, Trey Lance. The FCS standout is the apple of Draft Twitter's eye during the first wave of summer scouting, with some respected draft analysts like The Athletic's Dane Brugler ranking him ahead of Ohio State star, Justin Fields.

The Bears use the 12th overall pick in this mock on Lance. By the time April rolls around, and assuming Lance stacks another productive season on top of his remarkable 2019 performance, it's unlikely he'll be around outside the top 10.

Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and a remarkable ZERO interceptions in his first full season starting for the Bison. But that's not all; he ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns, too.

At an estimated 6-3 and 224 pounds, Lance checks all the early boxes for a franchise quarterback prospect. If he does end up leapfrogging Fields for QB2, he'll be a top-five pick.

But here's the catch: we just don't know enough about him yet. His 2019 season was fantastic, but it's the only one he has on film. And it was against FCS competition, which makes his projection to the NFL more difficult. It's a slippery slope to use Carson Wentz as an example to support Lance's ability to make the jump to the pros. Players like Wentz are the exception; they're few and far between.

It's only July, and the mock draft landscape will change multiple times between now and April. But if Trubisky and Foles fail to deliver in 2020, all mock drafts will have the Bears picking a quarterback. The only question is how high will the Bears be picking in Round 1, and which quarterback (if any) falls to their selection.