The NBA dead-season is terrible. It’s a time when there’s no news or excitement. There’s nothing to analyze, because the same players that you analyzed last week and the week before are still on the team and they haven’t done anything in the last month to be analyzed. If you are reading this, you have probably been as desperate as me to find NBA news! It’s a time when NBA writers stop tweeting about NBA and resort to tweeting about movies. It’s this time of year that produces fantastic headlines such as “Kirk Hinrich excited for Derrick Rose’s return,” “Cheerleader auditions heating up,” and “Houston Rockets aiming for a championship.” (I presume someone, somewhere has written the last one, and I definitely saw the first two.)
I assume the NBA sets the announcement of the upcoming season’s schedule in early August to drum up any amount of excitement possible. And guess what?
It worked! I’m writing an article about it!
So without further ado, here are the top five games I am looking forward to next season for the Bulls. Not necessarily all matchups with the best teams, but games that interest me for varying reasons.
1a. Chicago at Miami, Tuesday, October 29
1b. New York at Chicago, Thursday, October 31
Okay, so these two were obvious and I copped out by putting two number 1 choices. Like, 20 months later, the “#TheReturn” trend adidas pushed for this past season will finally be relevant after it fell flat on its face and no Rose-return ever happened. Rose’s first game back, against the defending champs, against LeBron, in a game that I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the Bulls won.
Then, two nights later, Rose makes the reeeeal return, back in Chicago in front of the home crowd that collectively choked on their hearts when Rose’s knee buckled some 20 months prior. I would imagine that there will be an ovation of sorts. Then, after the starting introductions, and the cheering and clapping, we can settle in for a great game between two Eastern Conference contenders, not to mention two teams that have a good rivalry, and a chance to see Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Metta Worwhatever-his-name-will-be-at-that-time try to share one basketball.
Fun fact: 7 years ago, the Miami Heat, as defending champions, hosted the Chicago Bulls on opening night of the NBA season. The Heat, with Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem on the roster, looked to begin their title defense strong against Chicago, with Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. The Bulls decided they would win 108-66 (108-66!!!!!!).
Later that year, in the playoffs, the Bulls demolished the defending-champion Heat and swept lazy Shaq, old Gary Payton, fat Antoine Walker, and probably-injured Dwyane Wade out of the playoffs 4-0 in the first round.
For one, 6’9, 250 pound reason, I don’t think this Heat title defense will go so miserably (thought I’m not opposed to it).
Anyways, these two games will get some of the highest TV ratings ever for NBA games. Wins for the Bulls in either game would be magnificent, but just seeing Rose out there again, and being Rose would be good enough for me. Playing the Heat in your first game back isn’t very cool, though. Thanks, NBA schedule maker guy.
2. Chicago at Oklahoma City, Thursday, December 19
The Bulls travel to meet the Thunder in a game where, hopefully, we will see which explosive point guard has recovered the strongest from knee injury, Rose or Russell Westbrook. I hope both are fully recovered and on top of their games, because there probably isn’t a more athletic or explosive matchup of point guards you can have in the NBA. Debate has gone on about who is the better player. Westbrook has taken the mantle of most exciting point guard from Rose since Rose has been injured, and we will see who comes out on top. Not to mention, it’s two fine teams and a chance to watch Kevin Durant.
If Westbrook has some complications with his knee and misses the game (not hoping for it, just saying if), we might get to see something like this outfit to the right. So we win either way!
3. Cleveland at Chicago, Saturday, December 21
Kyrie and Rose match up for the first time. Hard to believe, as Irving has been in the league for a few years now, but due to injuries, they have never played each other. Some have already crowned Irving as the best point guard in the league (why? I’m not sure.) while others are putting him in the top few, or saying he will be the best in a few years. Personally, I think he should play some defense and/or win something before we proclaim him so. Nevertheless, he is a fantastic player who can score on anyone. It will be fun to watch two of the best point guards play each other, and specifically, watch and see if Rose can stay in front of Irving on his repaired knee.
On top of that, Cleveland has added to its roster with #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, Andrew Bynum, and Jarrett Jack, not to mention emerging players in Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Cleveland won’t be the pushover it has been lately for the Bulls (a common theme throughout the Central Division, which I will cover soon). Should be a fun game.
4. Chicago at Brooklyn, Wednesday, December 25
On Christmas day, the Bulls travel to Brooklyn to the scene of a public shaming that they put on the Nets last playoffs. This time, as I outlined in a previous article, Brooklyn has reloaded and is looking like a top contender in the East, and will be eager to get back at Chicago. Chicago will have Rose back, obviously, so the potential for some very high-level basketball is there. The game will feature 9 starters out of 10 that have played in an All-Star game. Wherever the Bulls travel this year, the atmosphere will be amazing, with fans filling stadiums to see Rose back. Brooklyn already has a great arena atmosphere, (except for that annoying Brooooooooooooooooooooooooooooklyyyyyyyyyyyyn chant) so this game figures to be a dandy.
5. Chicago at Indiana, Friday, March 21
Oooooooh baby. Reasons this one should be great:
1. With 13 or so games left in the season, the Bulls and Pacers will probably be battling for positioning atop the Central and near the top of the East.
2. It’s towards the end of the season, so hopefully, Rose will be as close to 100% as possible.
3. Bulls can’t be too happy about the Pacers taking their torch of Best Team in the Central
4. The game is in Indiana, and Bulls vs. Pacers in Indy always produces a good atmosphere. Bulls fans flood much of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and turn it into an atmosphere like that of a high school or college same-state rivalry. There’s constant banter between the fans, because there’s probably fans of the other team sitting a few seats away from you. (This doesn’t reflect very well on Pacers fans, does it?) There’s a palpable and intense dislike in the crowd; it’s just a fantastic atmosphere. Oh, and the two teams produce some great basketball against each other too.
5. Did I mention these two teams don’t really like each other either?
There will be games against teams you wouldn’t expect that will end up being fantastic, and some of these games may end up being duds. But if I had to choose only 5 Bulls games to watch this season, it would probably be these three.
Now excuse me, they’re showing baseball on SportsCenter again and I have to find the remote to change the channel.