The NBA has a schedule. And a lockout. Which may mean the schedule will be more effective as packing material or lining for bird cages across the country. Still, presuming the best (fingers crossed, everybody), let’s take a month-by-month peak at what the Bulls have coming their way.
Oh, and if you’re not lucky enough to live in or near Chicago, you should still be able to get your Bulls fix. According to NBA.com: “The Bulls are currently scheduled to appear on national television a total of 29 times. This year the Bulls will air on ABC five times, TNT nine times, ESPN nine times and NBA TV six times.”
As always, the Bulls open the season with a rough first month: 15 games, 10 on the road, eight back-to-back games, and eight games against playoff teams (Mavericks, Hornets, Hawks, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Pacers, Spurs). The season opens with back-to-back road games in Dallas and New Orleans and finishes at home against the San Antonio immediately following the eight-game circus road trip. By the way, that trip features three sets of back-to-back games.
Brutal, right? The only “soft” spot on the November schedule is a four-game home stand against the Hawks, Clippers, Thunder and Kings.
The holiday season will be slightly more charitable: 12 games, six on the road, six back-to-back games, and only four games against playoff teams (Mavericks, Hawks, Spurs, Lakers). The Bulls will face some (presumably) bad teams both at home and away (Wizards, at Detroit, Cavaliers, at Golden State, at Sacramento), and they have a Christmas day matchup with the Lakers in L.A. Man, I hate Christmas day road games.
On paper, this could be Chicago’s best month of the season: 16 games, 11 at home, only five on the road, and a mere four back-to-backers. But…the Bulls have nine games against playoff teams (Grizzlies, Pacers, at Orlando, at Atlanta, Sixers, at Memphis, at Miami, Trail Blazers, at Miami) plus games against teams that always play them tough (Bobcats, Nets and Bucks).
I like all the home games. But this month won’t be a gimmie.
This month actually starts on January 29 in Miami, which is the first stop of a seven-game road trip that also moves through Philly, New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minnesota and Boston. That means six of the 12 games the Bulls play in February take place on the road. The second half of the month features a five-game home stand (against the Raptors, Celtics, Nets, Magic and Hornets) and closes out with a road game in Washington. In case you weren’t keeping count, that means the Bullies face six playoff teams. They also have four back-to-back games.
The skinny: 16 games, 10 at home, six on the road, six back-to-back. The Bulls will face eight playoff teams (at Indiana, Lakers, Knicks, Heat, at Orlando, Pacers, Nuggets, at Atlanta) and some (presumably) chump squads (Cavs twice, Pistons twice, Raptors twice). This could still be a tough month because I predict Carlos Boozer will be dealing with his standard late-season arm/leg/hand/foot/finger/toe/head injury.
Ah, April, the month of playoff positioning. Well, for the teams making the playoffs, anyway. The Bulls will play 11 games, six on the road (Oklahoma City, Toronto, New York, Philly, Detroit, New Jersey) and five at home (Bobcats, Celtics, Knicks, Heat, Timberwolves). That’s six playoff teams. They also have three sets of back-to-backs.