They open the season on October 29 at home against what should be a much-improved San Antonio Spurs team. The next day they travel to Boston for a tea party with their old friends the Celtics. Only unlike last season’s first round playoff matchup, the Celtics will (probably) have a healthy Kevin Garnett as well as newcomer Rasheed Wallace. A few games later they get to play against LeBron, Shaq and the rest of the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
How’s that for a welcome back?
Here are some more month-by-month highlights:
As mentioned, versus San Antonio (nationally televised on TNT) and at Boston (on ESPN). Two games against championship contenders right off the bat. And the Celtics could be looking for a little payback for how the Bulls brashly challenged them in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
The Bulls play nine of their 13 games on the road, including the final six in a row due to their annual circus trip. Five of those six are on the West Coast versus the Kings, Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers and Jazz.
If you combine October and November, the Bulls play 10 of their first 15 games on the road and face 10 playoff teams (Spurs, Celtics, Heat, Cavaliers, Sixers, Lakers, Blazers, Jazz and the Nuggets twice). It wouldn’t be shocking for the Bulls to enter December with a sub-.500 record. Again.
The Bulls will appear on TNT three times (at Cleveland on the 5th, at the Lakers on the 19th and at Utah on the 26th). They will also be televised on NBA TV on the 23rd (at Portland).
The Bulls only have four road games this month (at Cleveland, Atlanta, New York and Detroit), but eight of their 15 games are against playoff teams (Cavs, Celtics, Lakers, Hornets and twice each against the Pistons and Hawks).
Ben Gordon will make his first return to the United Center on December 2nd. The Bulls will face him again in Detroit on New Year’s Eve.
The Bulls have a six-game home stand that features some “should wins” (versus Golden State, New York and Sacramento) and a couple “might not wins” (against the Celtics, Lakers and Hawks).
ESPN is showing their game against the Cavs in Cleveland on the 4th and NBA TV is televising their home game versus the Celtics on the 12th.
Uh oh…another 10 of 15 games on the road, including a seven-game Western Conference road trip to finish up the month (at Golden State, the L.A. Clippers, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans).
Only six of those games are against playoff teams (the Magic, Pistons, Celtics, Rockets, Spurs and Hornets), but a couple of the teams they face might make a playoff push this season (the Wizards and Suns).
The Bulls absolutely must take advantage of several games against inferior opposition (Bobcats, Bucks, Timberwolves, Warriors, Clippers and the Thunder twice) if they’re going to survive this stretch.
TNT is showing their game at Boston on the 14th, ESPN is showing them play in Phoenix on the 22nd and NBA TV is showing their game against the Rockets in Houston on the 23rd.
Seven games at home and seven games on the road. Some playoff opponents (Philly, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Portland) and some non-playoff teams (Clippers, Timberwolves, Wizards, and the Pacers and Knicks twice each). All in all, probably the easiest month of the season to date. The bad news: it’s already February.
The Bulls will be televised once on ESPN (at Atlanta on the 5th) and twice on NBA TV (versus Miami on the 6th and at Washington on the 22nd).
The Bulls play nine games at home (versus the Hawks, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Jazz, Cavaliers, Rockets, Heat, Nets and Suns) and six on the road (at Orlando, Miami, Memphis, Dallas, Philadelphia and Detroit). In case you’re keeping track at home, that’s 11 games (out of 15) against playoff teams. Still, it’ll be nice to have two games against the Grizzlies.
The Bulls will make two appearances on TNT this month: at Orlando on the 11th and versus Miami on the 25th.
The Bulls finish the season with four home games (versus the Bobcats, Bucks, Cavaliers and Celtics) and four roadies (at Washington, New Jersey, Toronto and Charlotte). Two of those games — versus the Cavs on the 8th and the Celtics on the 13th — will be televised on TNT.
The schedule is front-loaded with a lot of road games, particularly in November and January. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team was struggling to stay above .500 come February. As always seems to be the case with the Bulls, the first half of the season is going to be a record killer and they might have to spend the second half playing catchup. Let’s hope that the return of Luol Deng, the free agent signing of Jannero Pargo and the addition of the rookies can give the team the depth and talent they need to make the playoffs again despite the early-season challenges.