10 Chicago Bulls games that will define their 2022-23 season

Pinpointing the 10 most important contests within an 82-game NBA schedule is an impossible task. Countless variables make the schedule unpredictable.

Kevin Durant may not be in Brooklyn for long, and who knows how much longer Donovan Mitchell has in Utah or when Indiana might part ways with Myles Turner? Blockbuster trades go down. Debilitating injuries occur. Players yo-yo in and out of the lineup for various reasons.

But there are times during the Chicago Bulls schedule when something else will be at stake, regardless of the situation. It could be a nationally televised game, even though the Bulls barely reached double digits. (The number jumps to 14 after including NBA TV games.) Maybe it will be a family enemy, an underlying revenge, or a night of measuring stick.

From start to finish, the Bulls’ schedule this season offers a steady stream of important stretches. These 10 must-have games, however, are as good as they’ll get.

October 19 in Miami

This is the opposite of last year’s season opener when the Bulls opened in Detroit after the Pistons finished the previous season with 20 conference wins. The Heat led the East with 53 wins last season and advanced to the conference finals. Miami also had the Bulls’ number, which swept last season’s four-game series. There may not be a better season-opening test for the Bulls.

Nov. 21 vs. Boston

Of course, the Celtics are the reigning Eastern Conference champions. Yes, they return a more talented squad. But this matchup is essential because it will be the third meeting between these teams in the Bulls’ first 17 games. That’s a lot of familiarity early in the season, which could create a playoff-like atmosphere. Look for the intensity to rise significantly, as both teams will be well-acquainted and likely tired of playing each other.

December 23 in New York

It’s the Knicks, but beyond that, another scheduling quirk adds intrigue to this long-standing rivalry. It will be the last of this season’s three-game series with the Knicks, with all three contests within 10 days of each other. As with the aforementioned Celtics game, each team’s concentration could increase and make for a better night of competition. This is also the Bulls’ lone trip to Madison Square Garden, and with the game being played two nights before Christmas, expect an electric atmosphere.

Dec. 28 vs. Milwaukee

Unlike last season, the Bulls’ regular season battles with the Bucks will be spread out. The Bulls didn’t play the Bucks until late January last season, and then the two teams met three times between March 4th and April 5th. This season’s Bulls-Bucks series closely corresponds to key checkpoints in Chicago’s season: Nov. 23 at Milwaukee; December 28 and February 16 in Chicago; and April 5 in Milwaukee. Each date will offer a glimpse into who the Bulls are and how they stack up against one of the league’s elite. The Bucks will be at the tail end of a five-game road trip and are fresh off their Christmas Day matchup with the Celtics. But they will rest for two days and should be ready for this second of four meetings.

Jan. 15 vs. Golden State

The Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, always seem to do something remarkable when they come to the United Center. What will this season be? This makes the second and final meeting between the teams worth watching, but also keep an eye out for the first scheduled game between these clubs on December 2nd. In this one, both will be just over 20 games, a time where teams hope to start figuring themselves out and start getting into a groove. But whatever happens in the first encounter, this second meeting will offer another crack at the defending champions a month and a half later. It will be a great opportunity for the Bulls to show growth.

January 19 in Detroit

The Bulls and Pistons will travel to France for what is being called the Paris Game, which will automatically put eyes on this contest. Thursday afternoon’s warning in the US will also be a nice change of pace. But the second of four meetings between these two teams also has a chance to reignite a long-running rivalry. The Pistons appear to be a team on the rise, and everyone else in the Central Division is chasing the Bucks. Both Cleveland and Detroit have built cores that rival the Bulls’ current roster or appear on the verge of surpassing Chicago’s. This game is an opportunity for the Bulls to show that they are not ready to give up ground just yet.

Feb. 16 vs. Milwaukee

How could the return of the #TNTBulls not make the cut? For the first time since 2017, the Bulls will play a home game while appearing on TNT’s national broadcast. Chicago has won 20 consecutive regular season games playing at home on TNT, leading to a popular social media campaign honoring the dominance of the #TNTBulls. Continuing the streak will be tough: The Bulls will be in the second night of a back-to-back after playing Indiana the night before and will be playing their fourth game in six nights.

March 3 vs. Phoenix

In the final month and a half of the season, the Bulls should be who they are. They will have shown if they can win their share of games against the best in the league or if they will stay in the middle of the pack. The Bulls finished 1-14 against the top four seeds in the East last season and did only slightly better. win percentage against their western counterparts. The Suns have a star-studded roster and are coming off a league-best 64 wins last season. Their high-powered offense and versatile defense will challenge the Bulls in a way few others can. How the Bulls fare in Phoenix may determine whether fans feel inspired for the home stretch or heading into baseball’s spring training.

March 29 against Lakers

LeBron James’ visit to the United Center is still a highlight. He’ll be 38 when the Lakers head to Chicago, and we still can’t take our eyes off him. Whether the Lakers will do well this season is anyone’s guess, but LeBron continues to be worth the price of admission.

April 2 vs. Memphis

It’s the penultimate game of the season, but this Sunday morning against Ja Morant and the Grizzlies promises to delight. Morant has blossomed into one of the league’s biggest young stars, while the Grizzlies lived up to Chicago’s expectations to become one of last season’s standout teams. It will be fascinating to see where both teams go from here. In this matchup on Sunday, we’ll find out if the Bulls can keep up with the fast-rising Grizzlies or if they’ve fallen behind.

(Top photo of DeMar DeRozan: David Banks/USA Today)

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