CHICAGO — The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. Well one of the many moments we’ve been waiting for since the NBA Lockout ended is here and that’s the announcement of the official 66-game schedule that will be played.
The upside is the Bulls have 26 Nationally Televised games, 26 if you have NBA TV. Ten will be in ESPN, seven on TNT and five on ABC with four games going to NBA TV for a total of twenty six.
However it won’t be an easy ride to the playoffs for the Bulls. Their schedule includes tough games against the Heat, Celtics, Magic and Thunder and have a brutal 9 game road trip a month into the season.
The Bulls open up on Christmas Day like we all expected and as reported earlier today by Pippen Ain’t Easy and multiple other reliable Chicago Bulls sources, your favorite five head to the Bay Area to continue what will be their first road trip of the season.
The Bulls return to Chicago for the first time since the Eastern Conference Finals on New Years Day to host the Memphis Grizzlies. They play one more home game against the Hawks before hitting the road again for three more games.
There was talk of each team getting a back-to-back-back three game stretch with some teams possibly getting more then one. The Bulls dodged a bullet and have just one such stretch and it thankfully comes near the start of the season.
The Bulls three game back-to-back stretch runs Janurary 9th-11th with two of the three games doing at home.
The Bulls really got a lucky break because not only are the three games against easier opponents, they’re all close in geography. The Bulls start the stretch at home against the Pistons on January 9th and then head to the Target Center in Minneapolis to play the rebuilding Timberwolves on the 10th. Chicago then travels back home to the United Center to play the Washington Wizards on the 11th.
That’s it, like tearing off a band aid. Then it’s all done with three games back-to-backs for Chicago. But that’s not the hardest part of the schedule.
The toughest part of the Bulls schedule comes at the very end of January through the start of Feburary. This is when they get a brutal nine game road trip to the East Coast that starts January 29th in Miami and ends February 12th in Boston. In between then the Bulls get games against the Wizards (1/30), Sixers (2/1), Knicks (2/2), Bucks (2/4), Nets (2/6), Hornets (2/8), and Bobcats (2/10).
The Bulls do get rewarded with two separate six game home stands; one in February right after the road trip and another in the middle of March.
The first home stand sees the Bulls hosting the Kings on Valentines Day, Celtics (2/16), Nets (2/18), Hawks (2/20), Bucks (2/22) and Hornets (2/28).
The second home stand sees the Bulls playing host to the Magic (3/8), Jazz (3/10), Knicks (3/12), Heat (3/14), Trailblazers (3/16) and the next night the end the home stand against the Sixers (3/17).
The Bulls also play half of their 16 non-conference games in the first two moths of the season (if you count December as a month of basketball). These games are some of the Bulls most interesting and testing games. The Bulls start the season with four of their first six non-conference games. These are (as announced earlier today) the Lakers (12/25), Warriors (12/26), Kings (12/29) and the Clippers (12/30).
The Bulls also get their game against the Mavericks that was cancelled on the original opening day of November 1st. There is an upside and a downside to this. The upside I that the game is no longer in Dallas it’s in Chicago, but the downside is it comes on April 21st at a time the Bulls may be battling for a high playoff seed.
The rest of Chicago’s non-conference games see them play the Timberwolves (1/10), Grizzlies (2/16), Hornets (2/8), Spurs (2/29), and Thunder (4/1) on the road and they will host the Grizzlies (1/1), Suns (1/17), Kings (2/14), Jazz (3/10), Trailblazers (3/16), Nuggets (3/26), Rockets (4/2) and the Mavericks (4/21).
The Bulls have plenty of interesting and intriguing matchups this season with most of them being pretty intense and tough. Check back to Pippen Ain’t Easy all week long as we break down the schedule month by month as we inch closer and closer to the start of basketball.