Bulls open on Halloween against Kings

The NBA schedule was released yesterday, and the Bulls will theoretically one of the easiest schedules in the NBA [based on last year's records] largely due to their weak division and the number of bottom feeders in the Eastern conference. I think the schedule makers made it as hard as they could though and more difficult than it appears.

Strength of schedule

In terms of marquee games, with the the typical 82 game season back this year things balance out quite a bit more. They'll play every team in the West twice, once at home and once on the road, so the Bulls won't miss the Clippers, Grizzlies, Thunder, and Lakers at home this season. You can't make the schedule easier or more difficult in terms of western conference play.

In the east, there are a few teams that I view as marquee opponents outside the division. The Bulls could play these teams either three or four times each, and they play all of them four times each.

Miami x4, Brooklyn x4, Boston x4, New York x4, and Indiana is in the division and thus x4 by default. Overall, the Bulls may benefit if the Pistons, Bucks, and Cavaliers continue to struggle, but the Pistons and Cavs appear to be on the rise to me, so the divisional games won't be as big of pushovers as they've been the past two seasons.

Granted, the difficulty of a schedule is often represented more in terms of who has what injuries when you play them than which teams you actually play. There are so many games and the actual difference in terms of opponents is minimal amongst similar tiered teams since elite teams play one less elite team [themselves] while lousy teams play one less lousy team [themselves].

Also, Orlando and Atlanta are in for big drop offs this season most likely making a team like Miami appear to have a much tougher schedule than they are likely to have at the end of the day. All that said the gaps in terms of schedule strength are fairly small and aren't remotely similar to getting a weak schedule in the NFL as an example.

National TV Time

Surprisingly, the Bulls are still strongly featured on national TV despite the likely loss of Derrick Rose for much of the season. Granted their national TV dates are largely backloaded with only five of the 26 dates being prior to January 1st which some have tagged as a potential return date for Rose.

Overall, the Bulls national schedule looks like this:
7 games on TNT
10 games on ESPN
7 games on NBA TV
2 games on ABC

I thought the Bulls might get dinged a bit, but apparently national networks are still banking on the market size if nothing else. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see a very apathetic Chicago Bulls fanbase if things start off slow this season and Rose is unable to play until March.

The circus trip has few teeth

The frequently feared circus trip which has long served as a benchmark for the quality of the team looks like this:
@Phoenix
@Clippers
@Portland
@Houston
@Milwaukee

Now the Bulls still might struggle to win any of those games early on in the season without Rose, but it's hardly a murderer's row of opponents to go up against. Unlike most years, the NBA really pushed a lot of the Bulls tough games into the second half. Whether they were just hoping to have Derrick Rose back for the national TV audience in the premier matchups, were doing the Bulls a favor, or it just happened to workout that way is up for debate.

My money is on maximizing the TV dollars and hoping for a Rose return.

In some ways, the schedule laid out that way will make things even more challenging for the Bulls, they'll likely lose plenty of games to the middle class that they'd easily win with Rose while then having to fight through a bunch of the elite teams that might beat them either way.

It probably doesn't ultimately mean much one way or the other, but it's something to philosophize about while we'll have a veritable drought of NBA action for the next month.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Tags: chicago bulls, nba, schedule

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  • I dont see the schedule being harder in the secound half of the year as a bad thing.

    The one thing that makes most NBA teams Chemistry. By that time we will hopefully have found some with the players and defined their roles better.

    Rose or not its gonna ba rough year for us. Id rather have us better prepared to play as a unit without Rose than to hope he returns sooner to save us from the harder teams. And to put that much pressure on him while he isnt 100% back is too much.

    I want us to succeed, but we need to find ways to be successful without Rose. Thats the weaknees we had the last two years, we cant continue like that. If we ever want to succeed, other players need to realize their are in the NBA for a reason, or retire now.

  • Assuming Rose returns in March and Deng misses the first 15-20 games what do you think the over under is on Bulls wins this season?

    I am thinking somewhere in the 35-40 range.

    It's tough because they should maintain a fairly elite defense all year but its going to be a grind the entire season and for me the big question is will they be able to generate enough offensive to be above .500? If RIP is healthy (and that is a huge if) maybe they do.

  • In reply to Chad:

    They probably will have to run the offense through Boozer and Rip more. I think the key if they are going to have success on offense is to get the bigs off of screens scoring. Rip/Belinelli taking the shot or passing to Noah, Taj or a slashing Deng/Butler. We've seen that the Rose-Boozer pick and roll wasn't very good. Maybe Hinrich can be more effective passing to Boozer on the pnr where he can take his beloved rainbow jumper or pass to a slashing wing or kick to a 3point shooter. It's going to have to be a "system's offense" with the only bailout being Hinrich or Belinelli launching a desperate 3 if the play falls apart. We also have no idea who the backup point guard will be or how effective he'll be. After losing Asik, if the Bulls can still maintain the defense-rebounding edge, they still can be in alot of games. I think 45 games is realistic if the defense-rebounding ability is still there and it should be.

  • Harder schedule after Rose returning will help them tank the season. Which they should.

  • A defensive team with no offensive firepower...

    Bulls - Rose = Sixers

    Sixers last 2 years, 7th and 8th seed.

    Without Rose, the Bulls will hover around .500, and if Rose comes back in March, they'll string together a winning stretch.

    I'm predicting 44-47 wins with 6th seed as the ceiling. If Deng opts for surgery and misses first half, expect the Bulls to be under .500 while Rose/Deng are out.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    All the Bulls have to do is make it to the playoffs and they can go on a run with Rose. The Celtics were a 5th seed last year and they made it to the ECF and gave the Heat a battle. You're going to have to win on the road to become NBA champions regardless of seeding. The biggest enemy of the Bulls won't be scoring as much as it will be staying healthy. Deng, Boozer, Rip are all capable scorers. Belinelli is a better scorer to Korver who gets completely shut down during playoffs. Something tells me it won't be scoring but maybe the defense will have problems after losing Asik and not really replacing him. They can give Gibson more minutes and that can help some. The roseless Bulls of last year were 18-9 or something like that, so I expect this roseless team to still be competitive in games. I think Noah and Gibson will surprise next year and pick up some of the scoring missing from the pg position.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Go back and check the 25+years of NBA champions. Maybe you find an exception or 2, but for the most part (at least the most recent years), the champions have been the top-3 seeds or better.

    If you're arguing that you can never say a lower seed WON'T win the title, that's fine, you can also argue a meteor will strike the earth and there will be a mass apocolypse.

    Belinelli might be a better scorer than Korver, but 1) he's barely better, 2) in the role with the Bulls, he will be expected to do the exact same thing Korver did...take spot up 3 pointers, and 3) kill Korver all you want for his defense, Marco is WORSE (and that's according to Marco).

    Last year's Bulls were 18-9 too, until Rose went down in the 1st game and the Bulls imploded. Losing Noah 2 games later didn't help, but they weren't playing great while Noah WAS playing.

    Also, last year, the Bulls's players knew Rose was going to eventually come back and be 'healthy'. This upcoming year, the players know Rose will be back, but it won't be until March, and when he does come back we're not sure if he will be 'healthy'.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    They will be fighting for a seven or eight seed meaning they will likely be one and done's. A playoff run in that scenario is highly unlikely. Especially given the fragile nature of their starters.

  • F.Y.I. from ESPN, a rational analysis of the Ben Gordon trade

    "I'm not a huge fan of the Gordon-Maggette swap. Yes, the Bobcats needed shooting, but adding Gordon isn't going to move the needle much and he has a whopping $25.6 million left on his deal. While most rebuilding teams are clearing future cap space, the Bobcats have an annoying tendency toward adding to it. On the other hand, the Bobcats did pick up a protected first-round pick from Detroit that they'll likely see in the 2014 draft. That's a lot of money for a late lottery pick, but it is the type of asset the Bobcats need to keep acquiring."

    A bad deal for the worst team in the league certainly would not have been a good deal for the Bulls.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    1) The 1stRounder is lottery protected next year (with DET sucking, they will keep it). But in 2014, the pick becomes unprotected, so if the Bulls were rebuilding for 2014. they would have gotten a lottery pick (that might end up being a top-3 pick).

    2) Ben Gordon might be expensive, but he's still offensive firepower. Like CHA, it wouldn't have been a bad deal for CHI because we NEED offense. The only negative is paying Gordon. Are we worried about Reinsdorf pocketing millions instead of spending it to improve the team now?

    3) Gordon's deal is only for 2 more years...so if the plan is for 2014, his salary comes off the books just when Deng does.

    4) And finally, CHA gave up Maggette's $10mil expiring deal. You don't think DET would have preferred to take Korver+Brewer's UNGUARANTEED $10mil...where instead of having to pay $10mil for Maggette, they would have saved $10mil from Korver+Brewer.

  • I think the Bulls with a healthy returning Derrick Rose and he has a few months to get into basketball shape when he comes back can definitely make a run in the East. Who is better? The Heat and Celtics are right now considered the best, maybe you have the Pacers behind them and after that you have 2nd tier teams like the Sixers, Knicks, Nets. No one except the Heat is a menacing challenge to a Rose led Bulls team. Rubio tore his acl in march and is said to start running in september. Rose is injured not dead.

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