Top 10 Bulls must watch games


Oct 29

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1. Oct. 29: Heat in Miami. It doesn’t get much hotter. For a ticket, anyway. Perhaps the most anticipated game of the 2013-14 season. There’s obviously not much significance to the first game in an 82-game season. But this is the Heat getting their championship rings from commissioner David Stern presenting them for the final times as he retires this season and Derrick Rose playing in his first official NBA game since April 2012. It’s also a faceoff of the only two MVP winners since Kobe Bryant in 2008.

2. Oct. 31: Knicks at the United Center. It’s perhaps appropriate on Halloween with the Knicks band of frightening figures that includes Ron Artest, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith and a family member. Smith’s sister was in at least two fights with fans when Smith played in China during the 2011 labor dispute. Smith supposedly left to avoid a potential world war. His brother apparently made the Knicks this season. But this is Derrick Rose’s—yes, him again—first regular season game back in Chiccccaaaaaaggggggooooo since his horrific knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. That everyone in Chicago particularly loves beating New York teams only enhances the interest.

OK, when do the playoff start?

No, there’s more to come and a potentially intriguing season given the Bulls status as a title contender.

3. Nov. 6: Pacers in Indiana. This is probably the first real test of the season since the national TV guys are gone along with the headlines, and this is the first meeting between the two teams who believe they will be Miami stoppers. Both the Pacers and Bulls have been selected by various guessers as the teams which could deny Miami a fourth to the Finals. The Pacers’ claim is with their seven-game conference finals. The Bulls’ is with Rose. They played twice in preseason, but now it counts and later in the season they may be looking back at this one for a tiebreaker and home court advantage in the playoffs.

4. Dec. 25: Nets in Brooklyn. The NBA owns Christmas Day. After all, do you spend more time with the NBA or Santa? Playing the Nets has a holiday feel as many of their players are old men who can have long beards. But it is the first look for the Bulls as the new Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce pairing in Brooklyn where the term “Bums” was once used in a loveable way. The Nets are supposed to be more threatening in May, presumably when their players’ bones loosen.

5. Dec. 18/19: Rockets in Houston and Thunder in Oklahoma City. OK, it’s not actually one game. But it’s the back to back of the season, if not a good thing, as the Bulls see Dwight Howard with his new Rockets and then the next night presumably Russell Westbrook back from his knee injury then to rejoin Kevin Durant. They’re considered perhaps the West’s two top teams, or certainly two of the top four and probably the most athletic and high scoring in the West. It’s another of those measuring things. Statement game, anyone!

6. March 9: Miami at the United Center. The Bulls will be trying to stop Miami’s 27-game winning streak. Oh, that was last season. But it is the final meeting between the teams before, at least the Bulls hope, the conference finals. It also kicks off the season ticket holders’ dream week with home games against the Heat, Spurs, Rockets, Kings (Ok, maybe not them) and Thunder. Also, the Bulls host Memphis a few days before Miami, basically seeing the top teams in the West at home all in a 10-day stretch.

7. March 24: Pacers at the United Center. It’s the last meeting of the season between the Central Division rivals—OK, I’m saying rivalry, too—unless the Bucks made some amazing deadline trades. Winning the division and having the better head to head record could determine much in the playoffs.

8. Jan. 20: Lakers at the United Center. It’s Martin Luther King Day, the other big NBA regular season day with prime matchups. The Lakers always are fun even if they likely won’t be having much this season. Kobe Bryant should be well into his return from Achilles surgery and plenty of talk by then of where Pau Gasol is being traded and whether LeBron and Kobe can play together. Bryant in his waning season has softened considerably and has become a delight with media as he draws media crowds in Chicago bigger than anyone.

9. Jan. 24: Clippers at the United Center. It’s the conclusion of L.A. week in Chicago as Los Angeles players get to complain about the cold and the Bulls see the team that could be leading the Western Conference. Doc Rivers’ Clippers look like the best in franchise history, which isn’t that long a list. But this clearly is the better L.A. team and it looks like it will be for awhile.

10. Dec. 2: Pelicans at the United Center. Who wouldn’t want to see a pelican in the United Center? Maybe it’s just me, but that’s one of the teams I most want to see with Anthony Davis, who was slowed some by injuries last season and now with all those scorers. There really aren’t many rookies to look forward to from this class, and it’s clear Greg Oden never will be that Greg Oden even if he can play. Davis is the most talented from the last class even if Damian Lillard overshadowed him.

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