And with expectations raised after a return to the playoffs in 2022, what a regular season it should be.
Training camp remains more than a month away. But for the time being, let’s take a look at some of the matchups worth circling:
The Opener: Oct. 19, at Miami Heat
The Bulls will face a gut-check right out of the gate with a trip to Miami to face Jimmy Butler and the Heat.
Despite losing PJ Tucker to the 76ers in free agency, Miami is returning much of the same core that finished last season first in the East and one errant jumper away from the NBA Finals.
That core certainly had the Bulls’ number during the regular season, finishing 4-0 against Chicago with a 15-point average margin of victory (19.5 in two games in Miami). Each matchup with the Heat will be an opportunity for the Bulls to prove they are ready to take the next step.
Other games vs. Heat: Dec. 20 (road), March 18 (home)
Cream of the Conference: Oct. 24, vs. Boston Celtics
Speaking of measuring sticks…
The schedule-makers loaded a few marquee matchups at the top of the Bulls’ slate. After Miami, the Bulls jet to the nation’s capital to face the Wizards (Oct. 21), then return to Chicago for their home opener against the Cavaliers on Oct. 22 and a date with the reigning Eastern Conference champion Celtics on Oct. 24.
Boston added Malcolm Brogdon and former Bulls target Danilo Gallinari to the nucleus that came within two wins of a title in the spring, and so project to be back at the top of the East again this season. Can the Bulls beat them — or join them?
Other games vs. Celtics: Nov. 4 (road), Nov. 21 (home), Jan. 9 (road)
The Champs: Dec. 2, at Golden State Warriors
Any matchup against Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is calendar-circle material. That this is the Bulls’ first look at the defending champions makes it must-see television.
Making the game more notable, it comes amid a grueling six-game road trip that also sees stops in Milwaukee (Nov. 23) and Phoenix (Nov. 30). The Bulls will have their mettle tested plenty early in the season.
Other game vs. Warriors: Jan. 15 (home)
Going Global: Jan. 19, at Detroit Pistons
The last time the Bulls played in Europe, Michael Jordan led the team to a McDonald's Championship title in 1997 — against an Olympiakos side that featured current Bulls EVP Artūras Karnišovas.
In January 2023, the Bulls are going back. This time, for a matchup with the Pistons at Accor Arena in Paris.
The game — which will showcase one of the league’s most iconic rivalries in a new light — and proceedings leading up to it are sure to be a spectacle as the NBA branches back into international markets with COVID-19 restrictions loosening.
The Bulls also face the Pistons in the final game of the regular season on April 9.
Divisional Duel: Feb. 16 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bulls’ final pre All-Star break game is one of four matchups with the Bucks.
For reasons related to geography, Grayson Allen and recent basketball history — a five-game Milwaukee rout in the first round of the 2022 playoffs — this is one of the current Bulls’ fiercest rivals, even if Giannis Antetokounmpo enters the season with an active 13-game regular season win streak against them.
Especially given the schedule significance and that the game is in Chicago, this one is sure to be riveting.
Other game vs. Bucks: Nov. 23 (road), Dec. 28 (home), April 5 (road)
Stretch Run Showdown: April 4, vs. Atlanta Hawks
If the Bulls are in one or multiple playoff seeding battles as the regular season winds down, their final 13 games will be very interesting. Between March 18 and April 9, they face the Heat, 76ers (twice), Lakers (twice), Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Bucks and Mavericks.
The revamped Hawks, which added All-Star guard Dejounte Murray in the offseason, project to be among the key games in that gauntlet. It will be the Bulls’ final date with an Atlanta team expected to challenge for a top-six seed one year after falling from East finalist to ninth in the conference.
Other game vs. Hawks: Dec. 11 (road), Dec. 21 (road), Jan. 23 (home)
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