The Chicago Bulls officially released their 2013-14 schedule concurrently with the rest of the NBA on August 6. The Bulls will open their campaign with the much anticipated return of star point guard Derrick Rose on opening night against the hated Miami Heat. The Bulls reportedly will play 24 games on major national TV networks, including on opening night, Christmas and MLK Day.
Looking at the schedule, there are a variety of games that stand out. The Bulls will potentially be once again fighting for top playoff seeding throughout the regular season. Once they get to the playoffs, there are a number of familiar foes that they may go up against. There are a few games that stand out in the regular season, and here are the top three.
The full Bulls schedule can be found at www.nba.com/bulls/schedule
3. Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers – March 24 (TBA)
Central Division foes Chicago and Indiana have had no love lost between them ever since their 2011 First Round Series. Chicago pulled that one off in five, but it was as close as a five game series could get. Since then, Indiana has established itself as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, while Chicago struggled to stay at that level with Derrick Rose out of the lineup.
This late-season matchup will actually be the second matchup in three games for these teams, but will be the last one out of four. The first two are very early in the season, and this matchup will occur when hopefully both teams will be hitting their regular season strides. As a basketball fan, it will be interesting to see if the Pacers really are in the same class as a Derrick Rose-led Bulls team, especially taking into account that they have similar schemes, and that the Pacers haven’t faced a fully healthy Bulls team in almost two years. A win in this game could also potentially be huge when it comes to playoff positioning, as the Bulls and Pacers should both be fighting for a top three seed with Miami all season long.
2. Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets – December 25 (ESPN)
The Chicago Bulls are once again slated to appear in the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule. Last season, the Bulls were simply destroyed by the Houston Rockets, but this year’s edition should be much more interesting. The Chicago Bulls eliminated the Brooklyn Nets from the playoffs last season behind a monster Game 7 from Joakim Noah, despite missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich for half the series. However the Nets bring back a very different team that includes former Celtics Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce.
The Nets could be considered a foil to this Bulls team: the Nets have plenty of isolation scoring and only one established defender, while the Bulls have a variety of defenders while lacking a true second isolation scorer. NBA history seems to favor defensively-minded teams, but we will get a chance to see whether offense can be king in this marquee Christmas Day matchup. And even though the game is early in the season, these two teams could potentially be fighting for playoff position and home court advantage later in the season, and we may get a playoff preview.
1. Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat – October 29 (TNT)
Without question, this game will be one of the biggest games in the NBA this upcoming season, with storylines aplenty. This game is the national television season opener for the NBA. The NBA champion Miami Heat are set to receive their championship rings before the match and raise their second banner. Perhaps even lost in the shuffle is that the Chicago Bulls are playing the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season, a team that even Joakim Noah professed to hate.
But eclipsing any other storyline is the return of superstar guard Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls’ lineup after an extended absence from ACL surgery. This is arguably the most anticipated return from injury in NBA history, and the whole world will have their eyes glued to the television to see how he responds. While this game really won’t have a whole lot of long-term implications for the Bulls’ or Heat’s future, it already stands out as the game of the year.