The NBA has officially announced the schedule for the 2014-15 season, and the Bulls will open their season with a pair of doozys. First up is Bulls shunner Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 29, and that's followed by the home opener against the new-look Cavs at the United Center on Halloween. Quite the way to start the season.
Following those two games, the Bulls have a rather "easy" first month of the year. There are 11 road games due to the Circus Trip, but only five of the 15 November games are against playoff teams from last season, and one of those is Indiana. Having a lighter early schedule is definitely nice as Derrick Rose gets his legs back and the newcomers gel together.
The Bulls have one other longish road trip, coming at the tail end of January into February. That's a six-gamer, while the Circus Trip will be seven games. The Bulls have a seven-game homestand in February/March, but the end of it is part of a rather brutal stretch of games that includes the Thunder, Clippers and later the Spurs on the road.
The Bulls will have 20 back-to-backs, with 14 of those involving travel. They also have two stretches where they have to play four games in five nights.
As for national television, the Bulls will technically be on it 30 times, although I don't really count the five NBA TV games. There are five ABC games, 10 TNT games and 10 ESPN games. Not including NBA TV games, the Bulls are tied with the Cavs and Thunder for most nationally televised games.
One new wrinkle this season is a prolonged All-Star Break. Following All-Star Weekend, the Bulls will have four additional days off before taking on the Pistons the Friday after the All-Star Game.
The full schedule can be found here.
And now for some schedule highlights other than the two high-profile openers.
Dec. 25 vs. Lakers: The Bulls get a nice Christmas present by having the opportunity to bash the Lakers at the United Center. This will be just the second time since the last title that the Bulls have hosted a game on Christmas. This will be Pau Gasol's first game against his former team, but more importantly, this is Carlos Boozer's one trip to the UC this season. How will he be received?
Nov. 17 at Clippers: The start of the Circus Trip, and the last time Rose played against the Clippers at the Staples Center, this happened:
Nov. 21 at Blazers: Rose tore his meniscus on Nov. 22, 2013. Almost exactly one year later, Rose and the Bulls return to the Moda Center during the Circus Trip. Let's cross our fingers this game turns out much better than the last one in Portland.
Dec. 6 vs. Warriors: Stephen Curry is always a must-see player, although he has had his fair share of struggles against the Bulls. That's because Kirk Hinrich is apparently his kryptonite.
Dec. 23 at Wizards: The Bulls will get their first chance at "revenge' on the Wizards after last season's playoff defeat. Also: Rose vs John Wall. Please and thank you.
Dec. 27 vs. Pelicans: Who knows how good the Pellies will be, but future Bull Anthony Davis (wait, what?) is turning into a monster, and this is the only chance to catch him at the United Center this year. Omer Asik is another reason to tune in.
Jan. 10 vs. Bucks: Yeah, the Bucks will be horrible. But Jabari Parker! Giannis Antetokounmpo! Jason Kidd! That's reason enough for this game to be rather intriguing.
Jan. 22 vs. Spurs: The Bulls get to see how they measure up against the defending champs. It's also a battle between arguably the two best coaches in the game. Should be a ton of fun.
March 6 vs. Thunder: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are always a treat to watch. Westbrook vs. Rose should be especially awesome. (crosses fingers they stay healthy)