The Bulls were the new breakthrough team in 2010-11. They surged out of basically nowhere and didn’t ask if they could be an Eastern Conference elite, they knocked out the rest of them. Now with the MVP, Coach of the Year and a team that will be loved in Chicago and hated in the East, the Bulls are on the up and up.
The NBA is helping them out with that too.
With the release of the new schedule today, you might find something interesting when looking at it if your a Bulls fan. Chicago is featured in 29 nationally televised games this upcoming season (whenever it wants to start). Some of those appearances are during some of the most high profile and marquee spots to be in including Opening Night, Christmas and Martin Luther King Day.
Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago laid out some of the more interesting games in the new season and I’m hard pressed to disagree.
The opening night game against the Dallas Mavericks will be a test right off the bat and also a chance for the Bulls to try and cover up the embarrassing exit they had from the playoffs last year. Speaking of that team that bounced them, the NBA held off on a Bulls-Heat matchup until January 19th in Miami. The two will meet again on March 14th in Chicago and one final time in the regular season on April 12th again in Chicago.
Chicago’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder will be a nationally televised game and marketed at the “On the Rise” game by the NBA. Chicago gets a MLK Day game again this year and it’s against the Grizzlies in Memphis as it was last year.
Should the Bulls make another push to the top of the East late in the season, it won’t come as an easy task. In the last six weeks of the season Chicago gets matchups against New York (3 times), Miami (2 times), Orlando (once) Indiana (once), Oklahoma City (once) and Boston (once).
Whenever the season does start, it will no doubt be another memorable one for the Bulls. There is no excuses now; the NBA has recognized the Bulls as an elite force and are challenging them as such. Now all that is left to do is live up to the hype.
See the complete 2011-12 Chicago Bulls Schedule here.