The 10 most intriguing games on the Bulls' schedule

The 10 most intriguing games on the Bulls' schedule
August 13, 2014, 5:00 pm
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Mark Strotman

The Bulls' 2014-15 opponents have been known for some time, but with the release of the NBA schedule Wednesday evening those matchups feel a little more real.

And of the 82 regular season contests the Bulls will play -- you can see the complete schedule right here -- we've picked out 10 that have the most intrigue, best story lines or most competitive opponent involved.

10. Wednesday, Jan. 14, vs. Washington: The Wizards make their first trip back to Chicago since ending the Bulls' season in last year's playoffs. Though the Bulls and Wizards will have already played twice by the time this game comes around, Joakim Noah and the rest of the Bulls will be out for revenge after losing all three home games in last year's series. Also of note, John Wall was cut from Team USA's roster, a roster Derrick Rose is expected to make. From one John Calipari pupil to another, this should be a fun one.

9. Saturday, Dec. 27, vs. New Orleans: Budding superstar Anthony Davis enters his third NBA season, but he still hasn't played a game in his hometown. He'll get that chance in late December when the Pelicans come to the Windy City. After averaging 20.8 points and 10.0 rebounds a year ago, Davis is quickly becoming one of the game's best players and, at just 21 years old, has plenty of room to grow. Last year, in New Orleans, Davis scored 24 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked six shots in a Pelicans win over the Bulls. Rose and Davis also will be teammates on Team USA this summer.

8. Thursday, Jan. 22, vs. San Antonio: This may not be the case by the time these two teams square off, but for now the Spurs and Bulls are considered by many as the favorites in their respective conferences. Everyone is back for the Spurs after dominating in the 2014 NBA Finals, and the Bulls will be looking for some revenge after losing last year's matchup in Chicago. Of course this time around they'll have Rose for the contest, and in seven career games against the Spurs Rose has averaged 23.7 points, his sixth best average against any team.

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7. Friday Nov. 21, at Portland: Rose returns to the scene of his last major knee injury almost exactly a year after it occurred. There's also a handful of matchups here that should make for a great contest: Rose vs. Damian Lillard, two of the best young point guards in the NBA and the two faces of adidas basketball; former Marquette stars Wesley Matthews vs. Jimmy Butler; LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Noah, two of the best bigs in the game; a Portland team with one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA.

6. Thursday, Jan. 29, at L.A. Lakers: Pau Gasol played seven seasons in Los Angeles, averaging 17.7 points and 9.9 rebounds, winning a pair of NBA titles and putting together the finishing touches on a storied career that may result in a Hall of Fame bust. So it's sure to be an emotional matchup when he makes his return to Los Angeles for the first time to square off against his former team. Plus, Rose and Kobe Bryant are both coming off season-ending injuries and make for one of the best one-on-one matchups in the league.

5. Saturday, Jan. 10, vs. Milwaukee: The last time Jabari Parker played in the United Center, he scored 27 points in Duke's loss to Kansas in the Champions Classic. The Chicago native makes his first return home since that performance and for the first time as a professional. For what it's worth, the Bucks have won their first matchup in Chicago each of the last two years, and with Parker leading the way they'll be much more competitive than last year's 15-win group.

4. Thursday, Dec. 25, vs. L.A. Lakers: The Bulls will play on Christmas for the fifth straight season, squaring off against Bryant and rookie Julius Randle, while Gasol plays his former team for the first time. The game itself may not be all that competitive, but anytime the Black Mamba, who played just six games last season, comes to town he's bound to put on a show. It's also worth noting that the Lakers have played at home on Christmas Day the last seven seasons, though a 27-win season doesn't lend itself to a favorable draw on primetime games. Lastly, it'll be Carlos Boozer's return to Chicago. Buckle up.

3. Thursday, Dec. 18, vs. New York: Last season Carmelo Anthony received a warm welcome from the United Center crowd when he squared off against the Bulls, with fans understanding there was a real chance the seven-time All-Star would be strongly considering Chicago when free agency rolled around that upcoming summer. But with Anthony back in Chicago for the first time in December, it's safe to assume the welcome won't be nearly as warm. This won't be "just another game" for Tom Thibodeau's group.

2. Sunday, Jan. 25, vs. Miami: By the time Luol Deng had been traded to the Cavaliers last season, Cleveland had already played both its scheduled games in the United Center. And while Deng did square off against his old team in late January in Cleveland, this year he'll play for the first time in front of the Bulls faithful in a different uniform. It's sure to be an emotional night, and the fact that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh didn't make any friends in the Windy City the last four years adds some intrigue to this matchup. LeBron or not, the Bulls and Heat still aren't pals.

1. Friday Oct. 31, vs. Cleveland: The most intriguing game of the year also happens to be the Bulls' home opener. With LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and likely Kevin Love in tow, this Halloween matchup will pit the Eastern Conference's two clear front-runners against each other in the first week of the season. James has made himself public enemy No. 1 in Chicago, and the Bulls were interested in acquiring Love early in the offseason. All that, plus the Rose-Irving matchup, makes this the most intriguing game on the schedule. The two teams play four times this year as division foes, but the first time will be the best.