With baseball officially over in Chicago and hockey on another hiatus, those who want an alternative to the constant NFL coverage will be happy to know Chicago Bulls basketball is back, and will not end up being a surprise Christmas gift this year. The Bulls just held their Media Day last week, and the preseason is right around the corner. The team kicks it off against the Memphis Grizzlies Oct. 9 at the United Center. With the season in grasp, let’s take a look at some of the key games on the Bulls’ schedule during the first few months of the season, and how the revamped team plans to stay competitive through it all.
Following seven preseason games, the Bulls will begin their season on Oct. 31 against the Sacramento Kings, and once again this opener will be in Chicago. The team welcomes a few fairly easy early games, but its first real test comes in their fifth game against the reigning Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder. Better yet, it will also be a nationally televised game on TNT. The game may not have the same spark it would’ve had if Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant were going head to head, but to see Durant in the UC so early in the season will be a spectacle in itself. Unfortunately, it may prove difficult for the Bulls to overcome this talented team without their own superstar.
But really, the first full month of the season isn’t really that tough on the Bulls. Games against average teams like Minnesota, Portland and Milwaukee might be able to give the Bulls the chance they need to stack up some wins as they wait for Rose’s (possible) return in the new year. Some bigger opponents are speckled in there as well, with the Boston Celtics visiting on Nov. 12 and the Dallas Mavericks coming to town on Nov. 28. Winning early will be imperative if the Bulls want any real chance of going deep into the playoffs. Taking advantage of the schedule will aid immensely in making that a reality.
December will feature more of the league’s elite with some key games that will test the Bulls’ power. The New York Knicks get two looks, once at home and once at Madison Square Garden, and those games take place on Dec. 8 and 21. Also coming to town are the Los Angles Clippers, and the Bulls travel to Indiana to face off against the Pacers, a team that gave the Bulls plenty of trouble last year. But let’s face it; the team is completely different. The core starters are still intact, but the “Bench Mob” that helped make the team so great last year is basically gone. Finding a rhythm early against weaker teams is certainly possible, and that needs to happen before the schedule gets tougher and the season drags on longer without Rose.
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