Usually I pay little mind to schedule-release day, as they're all pretty much the same across the league. Clearly it's a bit different in this 66-game version of the NBA season. The sameness is that they're all going to be grueling in terms of frequency, but the opponents are definitely not all equal.
The good news: If you're measuring by opponents' 2010-11 win percentage, the Bulls have the easiest schedule of all! This is only slightly skewed by the fact that the Bulls don't play that juggernaut known as the Bulls.
ESPNChicago did some fine early legwork for us on some other quirks:
Toughest stretch of games - Jan. 29-Feb. 12:The Bulls will embark on a nine-game road trip that starts in Miami and ends in Boston. This will be one of the toughest stretches in recent memory for a Bulls team that figures to be exhausted after the first week, given they'll play four games in the first five nights.
Easiest stretch of games - Most of January: After a short three-game trip to Detroit, Orlando and Atlanta, the Bulls begin what figures to be their most relaxed portion of the schedule. Starting with a home game against theon Jan. 9, the Bulls will only go on the road four times until a Jan. 29 showdown at Miami. In the meantime, they face a large chunk of teams that didn't qualify for the playoffs including Washington, Toronto, Cleveland and New Jersey just to name a few.
Who's missing? - The only Western Conference teams the Bulls will see twice are Sacramento, Memphis, New Orleans. Every other Western Conference team they will only see once. The Bulls play theand four times. They'll see the three times.
As Mike McGraw notes, in news that is good for schedule strength but bad for season ticket holder entertainment: the Lakers, Thunder, Clippers and Spurs won't be visiting the UC this year. I don't see the Warriors scheduled to come here either, and they're sorta interesting.
If you really want to get in-depth with things, check out this schedule slice/dice tool from NBAStuffer.com (ht: Zach Lowe). Back-to-backs, back-to-back-to-backs, 5th game in 6 days w/ playing on the last 2 consecutive nights, and more!
Some other random schedule-related links:
- Something for your dartboard - the Heat schedule, all nice and color-coded at the Heat Index.
- From Ben Golliver, this chart shows the Bulls made out best in terms of Western Conference road opponents (and them being good themselves)
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer remarks at just how much of the matchups were determined by being 'marquee'. This is good news for Bulls fans: more national TV games means less Neil Funk.
- The lockout kept the Bulls from going through The Circus Trip this year, but it looks like them and the Blackhawks are teaming up to get rid of it forever.