The Bulls’ 2010-11 Schedulapocalypse

The 2010-11 schedule has been released. It’s a doozy.

As usual.

The Bulls must once again — and again and again and yet again — contend with their infamous November “circus trip” and a schedule loaded with back-to-back games. As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune pointed out: “The Bulls are tied with the Bucks for the league lead with a whopping 23 sets of back-to-back games.”

Expectations must be high, because the Bulls will be on national television 27 times, including a Christmas day game against the Knicks in New York.

Here’s the month-by-month breakdown:

The Bulls open their season in Oklahoma City against a Thunder team starring a potential MVP candidate (Kevin Durant). Last season, the Thunder won 50 games in a tough Western Conference and gave the Lakers their second toughest fight en route to a second consecutive championship.

A few days later, the Bulls have their home opener against a Pistons squad featuring former Bull Ben Gordon and maybe-coulda-been-a-Bull Tracy McGrady. That one should be a shot selection masterpiece.

Things get ugly right off the bat: In 13 games, the Bulls face eight playoff teams and a Houston squad that should return to the playoffs if Yao Ming can stay healthy for a change. After a tough opening stretch in which they face the Trail Blazers (home), Celtics (road) and Nuggets (home), the Bulls close out the month with a brutal seven-game road trip that features two sets of back-to-backs and consecutive games against the Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks, Lakers, Suns and Nuggets.

As always, it’s going to be a struggle to escape November on the sunny side of .500.

The schedule doesn’t get better right away. The Bulls return home for one game to face the Orlando Magic before heading to Boston for a play date with the reigning Eastern Conference champs. Then it’s back home for games against the Rockets, Thunder and NBA champion Lakers (broken up by a road game against the LeBron-less Cavaliers).

This could be the point of the season where people start openly questioning how good this team really is, which seems like an annual rite of passage for the Bulls. Sweaty hands could be hovering over the Panic Button.

Fortunately, after the Lakers leave Chicago, the strength of schedule eases up. The Bulls get a stretch of nine out of 10 games against non-playoff teams: Timberwolves, Pacers, Raptors, Clippers, 76ers, Wizards, Knicks, Pistons, Bucks and Nets. Only four of those 10 games are on the road, and the only playoff team during that run (Milwaukee) has to come to the United Center.

Of course, the Knicks game is a Christmas day roadie…which, historically speaking, has gone pretty badly for the away team. Fortunately, the Knicks recently re-hired Isiah Thomas as a consultant. Still, let’s hope Santa doesn’t give Amar’e Stoudemire a post game.

This could be the month for a big push: Out of 16 games, the Bulls have only four road contests (at New Jersey, Charlotte, Indiana and Memphis). Technically speaking, the Bulls have nine games versus playoff teams, but two of those are against the Cavaliers. So…yeah. The others will be tough — Celtics, Heat, Bobcats (twice), Mavs, Bucks and Magic — but the rest of the schedule is littered with teams of questionable credibility: Raptors, Nets, Sixers, Pistons, Pacers (twice) and Grizzlies.

If the Bulls are going to be a top four seed in the East this season, they’re going to have to take advantage of having 12 out of 16 games at home in January. They should also floss between meals. It’s just a good habit to get into.

Things get ugly again in February: Eight of 11 games are on the road. In fact, the month opens with a five-game Western Conference road trip at Los Angeles (versus the Clippers), Golden State, Portland, Utah and New Orleans. The Bulls then play three out of four at home (Bobcats, Spurs, at Toronto, Heat) before closing out the month with road games at Milwaukee and Washington.

Even though “only” five of the 11 games are against playoff teams, the Hornets could definitely return to playoff contention this season. Have I mentioned I’m looking forward to seeing Derrick Rose square off with Chris Paul? Well, I am.

Unfortunately, the Bulls won’t earn much of a break for escaping February. Half of their 16 games are on the road. And check out their first seven games: at Atlanta, at Orlando, at Miami, Hornets, at Charlotte, Hawks, Jazz. The Bulls then get a softer four-game stretch (Wizards, at New Jersey, at Indiana, Kings) before an on-again, off-again stretch to close out the month (at Atlanta, Grizzlies, at Milwaukee, Sixers, at Minnesota).

This is when I assume (or just really, really hope) the Bulls will be pushing for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Fingerscrossed, people. Only three out of eight games are on the road, and only three games should be tough (Suns, Celtics, at Orlando). The rest of the teams the Bulls face will probably be prepping for their summer vacation (Pistons, Raptors, Cavaliers, Knicks and Nets).

On paper, this should be the best Bulls team since Michael Jordan retired the second time. But the schedule makers were not kind. The early season is front-loaded with road games, and the Bulls face more back-to-backs than anybody other than the Bucks. I really believe the Bulls could win 50-ish games, but they’re going to need to play really well in the early going to avoid falling into their annual sub-.500 hole.


16 Responses to The Bulls’ 2010-11 Schedulapocalypse

  1. bobbysimmons August 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    oh boy im so hyped up for this season! it’s been over 10 years since the bulls have had a team this well equipped for a playoff run! i predict 3rd or 4th in the east, and nobody can rule us out to surpass boston or orlando. took the plunge and got season tix today, can’t wait

    thirdsaint August 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    Didn’t the Bulls play the most back-to-back games last year at 25? Why do they keep doing this to us? I was hoping for a break from those. Is it typically playoff teams that get those or is it just random? I’d love to know the league’s reasoning behind them.

    I’m hoping this is the first year since the Jordan-era that we go at least .500 on the circus trip. More than half the team has never experienced it so at least they don’t have a mental hurdle to overcome. Also, if this team is as good as we hope (and think) they should be able to go at least .500.

    Savage August 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    The league schedulers have consistently slammed the Bulls with a difficult schedule and all the back to backs. I would pay $100.00 (maybe 2) to punch the person in the face that is responsible for scheduling the Bulls games. That being said, I think we have a good enough team to weather the storm. I am really hoping for a 55 win season but I agree it is not going to be easy they need to go straight out of the gates and get it.

  4. steve August 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    is anyone really that surprised at the schedule? It always turns out this way. however, the bulls are better equipped to deal with it this season, hopefully.

    dlouis August 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    Everyone plays 41 away games, so I’m not complaining about the Circus Trip. It just means we get more home games in the last three quarters of the season.

    The back to backs are an issue though. I would imagine that its created by the lack of availability in the United Center, and probably the need for 2 long road trips (Circus & Feburary.) This happens every season, so there must be a legitimate reason.

    joe August 12, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    Bulls need enough wins to get into the post season ThunderDome. Sixteen teams enter, one team comes out.

    If they have a bad start and there’s hand wringing from the clueless fans, well so be it. New coach and vets understand the schedule well enough to not panic. We’ll go on a run and make up some games.

    My only hope is we beat Miami’s three stooges every time we play them. maybe get a blow out and watch one of the three to quite trying.

    Enigmatik August 12, 2010 at 2:03 am #

    i feel like the schedule maker is a knicks fan or someone who really hates the bulls. either way, the team has their work cut out for them. i agree with joe, i hope the bulls smash miami in all three meetings

  8. fsabe August 12, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    The reason for the Bulls back to back heavy shedule is due to the fact that they share the United Center with the BlackHawks and due to other engagements like the Cirucus and other concerts….

    So It mainly due to the availability of the Staduim and not some conspiracy theory.

    thirdsaint August 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Yeah, I get the UC is hard to book with everything going on and the Blackhawks but I don’t get why that means it has to be back-to-back. One of those games is always home and the other away. It seems like the NBA gets the leftovers when it comes to scheduling the UC and I wonder why that is. This is the house Jordan built!

    reggie August 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    I myself feel that it is what it is for the bulls games and who they play on the other hand I am glad they have such a tough schedule this will let us(bulls) see if they have a corvette or a Vw for a team you know how u get a new car and you blow it out to see how it really runs I know they are not cars players but with them facing such a hard road it will be that much more sweeter if they succeed lets face it expectations here have risen and this will just legitimize who(bulls) really are we will see right from the get go, I am gonna say it now I think the bulls will face adversity and they will over come it and come out smelling like a Rose so ironic but its true I am ready for the season to begin not wasting time on the three for after them the team gets real slim so lets get it cracking wished it started today I’m ready. Peace

  11. Anonymous August 13, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    After looking through this schedule from Game 1 to Game 82 I came up with a record of 57-25. Your right Start to first week of DEC is brutal but after that first week of DEC to end of JAN I see us going on a huge streak with an easy schedule. Heck even our FEB road trip seems like an easy one. Rest of FEB and March seems like it has tough games but its all spread out with one tough game then one easy team, one tough game, one easy team, etc. April seems like a breeze as well. BOS and ORL are on the schedule but BOS is at home and will probably rest their old farts for the playoffs then and yes Orlando is on the road okay but the rest is easy. So I see 57-25 and I will take that.

    And to answer one persons thing about why the NBA gives the Bulls back-to-Back bgames at a brutal rate—Thats because the NBA hates us. NBA loves teams like the Heat and Celtics. Heck they probably want Milwuakee to beat us for the Central DIV Title.

  12. Jo August 14, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    I’m so fucking excited! I CAN”T WAIT FOR THIS SHIT TO FUCKING START!

    Jake in Minnie August 15, 2010 at 12:33 am #

    Ok, guess I should stay stuck in Minnie till March to catch the Bullies.

  14. Matt Steigenga August 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Two things:

    After going through the schedule start to finish, I came up with a prediction of 57-25. Back-to-back’s are not a big deal for this team since most of the guys on our team are 25 yrs or younger (Boozer is only 28 himself). Back-to-back’s affect older teams more. If anything the back-to-backs are good for us because young talented teams like ours need to keep playing good basketball on a nightly basis.

    Second, I watched the USA vs France game today and why is Rondo starting over Rose????? Did not Rose school him in that Blue-White game in Vegas three weeks ago? Seriously if Team USA decides to promote Inferior Rondo over Rose then I will root for another country. Heck why didn’t they ask Noah to play on the team since we have no Centers other than Tyson Chandler? Has the Center landscape in the NBA gotten that bad when we have a guy like Tyson Chandler who AVG. 6 and 7 on a mediocre Bobcats team (while coming off the bench).


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