Mark your calendars, Bulls Nation. We are officially 71 days from the start of the Bulls’ first regular-season game of the 2019-20 season.
Per the team’s official schedule release, the Bulls will open the regular season on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on October 23. But the Hornets matchup is far from their most interesting of the season.
From facing newly-formed super teams to welcoming in future superstars, these are the most interesting games of the Bulls upcoming season:
October 26 – Bulls vs. Raptors (home opener)
Though they will officially open the season with two road games, the Bulls’ first home game of the season will come against the defending champs.
After losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency during the offseason, the Raptors will look much different than the team that won a championship just a year ago. But Leonard or no Leonard, the Raptors are a dangerous team with a lot to prove.
The home opener will be a difficult challenge so early in the season but will give the younger players a chance to see what the NBA schedule is like on a regular basis.
November 1 – Bulls vs. Pistons
The Bulls’ entire November schedule is brutally full of homecomings and tough matchups, starting with their first game against Derrick Rose and the Detroit Pistons on the first of the month.
Although the Bulls have faced Rose as a member of both the Knicks and Timberwolves, his homecoming in a Detroit uniform will be different. Rose is no longer struggling with the reality that he isn’t a Bull, as he seemed to be during his New York days, and is no longer focused on proving that he can still play, as he was in Minnesota.
This matchup will be the first the Bulls have against a healthy, proven Rose since they traded him in 2016.
November 5 – Bulls vs. Lakers
Continuing their tough November schedule, the Bulls will face the newly-upgraded Los Angeles Lakers just four days later.
It will be the team’s first look at the Lakers since the Anthony Davis trade. And though the Bulls played the Lakers twice last season, LeBron James only played in one game, sitting out the other with an injury.
Davis’ recent comments about basketball in Chicago, including the admission that he’d love to play in his hometown one day, will surely add an extra storyline to the matchup. Although no one will be expecting a Bulls victory, their first game against the Lakers is definitely one to watch.
November 22 – Bulls vs. Heat
Another day, another former Bull visits the United Center in a new uniform.
The Bulls’ November 22 game will feature Jimmy Butler, visiting for the first time in a Miami Heat jersey.
In both games since the Bulls traded their former superstar in 2017, they’ve come out with a victory. They did not face Butler during his tenure with the 76ers but will face him four times a member of the Heat this upcoming season.
Miami will look like a vastly different team than they were last time the Bulls played them, with Butler taking over for the now-retired Dwyane Wade.
December 14 – Bulls vs. Clippers
Before embarking on a four-game road trip in December, the Bulls will play host to the Los Angeles Clippers in their first matchup against the newly-formed super team.
One thing is for sure about this game: the Clippers will likely present the toughest defense the Bulls will face all season. Facing a rock-solid defensive lineup, the offensive-minded Bulls will have to prove that their offense is as talented as they believe. Especially with Chicago native Patrick Beverley in the backcourt to test whichever point guard the Bulls choose to start, the defense is going to be suffocating.
To make it even harder, the Bulls will also be coming off the first night of a back-to-back when they face the Clippers.
January 8 – Bulls @ Pelicans
The Bulls will get their first look at what could have been in early January.
After fans in Chicago had their hearts broken by not being selected to pick number one in the draft, the New Orleans Pelicans drafted Zion Williamson with the first pick.
Though the Bulls will face the Pelicans in preseason, this will likely be their first look at Williamson playing a full set of starters minutes. It will also be their first chance to try and defend him.
By now, no one needs to be convinced of why the first matchup against Williamson will be worth watching. But the game will also feature the Bulls facing Lonzo Ball for the first time since he was linked to Chicago in trade rumors.
The Bulls will play the Pelicans for the second and final time of the season at home just a month later.
February 16 – All-Star Game
For the first time since 1988, the NBA All-Star game will be held in Chicago.
Last time the event visited, Michael Jordan won the NBA All-Star Game MVP award and took home the Dunk Contest trophy. With Zach LaVine primed to compete in the Dunk Contest again, it’s possible that the award could go home with a Bull for the second straight time in Chicago.
The event weekend is also expected to feature the usual festivities, including the Three-Point Shootout and Skills Competition, along with the All-Star game itself on February 16.
April – Fighting for a playoff spot
After failing to make the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Bulls will be looking to return there this year.
But if, as expected, they are still fighting for the seventh or eighth seed come April, their last stretch of the season is going to be tough to overcome. The Bulls will start the month facing the Denver Nuggets before later facing the Lakers and Clippers in the span of three days, both games coming on the road. In addition, they’ll face Brooklyn and Boston, both expected to be playoff teams, toward the middle of the month.
Ideally, the Bulls will be securely in playoff position come April. But if they’re close to the edge, their schedule may be the difference between whether or not they make a postseason appearance.
Follow Katy on Twitter @katyduffy_ for more Bulls news and opinion.