Bulls open season in New York, host LeBron, Cavs on Halloween

Bulls open season in New York, host LeBron, Cavs on Halloween
August 13, 2014, 5:00 pm
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Mark Strotman

The NBA offseason centered around the free agency decision of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, and that's exactly how the Bulls will begin their 2014-15 regular season.

The Bulls' schedule was announced Wednesday evening, and Tom Thibodeau's group will open their campaign in New York against the Knicks. The Bulls made a serious push this summer for Anthony to team up with Derrick Rose in the Windy City, but the seven-time All-Star ultimately opted to remain in New York, leaving the Bulls to go with Plan B, which included signing Pau Gasol and 2011 first-round pick Nikola Mirotic. And Bulls fans will have two chances to let Anthony know they feel when the Knicks come to town on Dec. 18 and March 28.

Two days after they open, on Halloween, they'll welcome James and the Cavaliers to the United Center in their home opener. For a team that won just 33 games a season ago, the Cavaliers were at the forefront of seemingly the entire offseason, beating the odds and winning their third NBA Lottery in the last four years, signing point guard Kyrie Irving to a max extension, drafting Andrew Wiggins, agreeing to a deal to send Wiggins to the Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love and, of course, signing James to a two year-deal. All of a sudden Bulls-Cavs becomes one of the most hotly contested division matchups in all the NBA. As division opponents, the Bulls will play the Cavaliers three other times, including a matinee matchup on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 19). The April 5 matchup in Cleveland in the season's final weeks could be important for playoff seeding.

[RELATED: The 10 most intriguing games on the Bulls' schedule]

The Bulls also will see their fair share of talented rookies to open the year. After their showdown with the Cavaliers, Thibodeau's group will head to Minnesota to take on Wiggins and the Timberwolves. That's followed by a home matchup with Orlando and No. 4 pick Aaron Gordon. A quick two-game road trip to Milwaukee and Philadelphia pits the Bulls against No. 2 overall pick and Chicago native Jabari Parker (Bucks) and Nerlens Noel (Philadelphia). Those four could lead the way in Rookie of the Year voting by season's end, and they'll all get stiff tests early against the Chicago defense.

Jabari Parker will make his debut in Chicago on Jan. 10. The last time Parker played in the United Center he scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds as a member of the Duke Blue Devils in a loss to Andre Wiggins and the Kansas Jayhawks.

Luol Deng never played against the Bulls at the United Center after being traded to the Cavaliers, but he'll make his first appearance in Chicago not in a Bulls uniform when his new team, the Miami Heat, travel to the Windy City on Jan. 25.

[RELATED: Check out the Bulls' complete 2014-15 regular season schedule]

The Bulls finish the first full month of the season with the Circus Road Trip. From Nov. 17 to Nov. 30 they'll head out west beginning with the Los Angles Clippers and end on the East Coast against the Celtics and Nets.

The Bulls will play on Christmas Day for the fifth straight season, hosting Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers at the United Center. The Bulls last faced the Lakers on Christmas Day in 2011 to open the strike-shortened season. It's the first time since 2012 that they'll host a Christmas Day game.

An added wrinkle in this year's schedule is a week-long All-Star Break. The Bulls will be off for eight days in the middle of February, playing Feb. 12 and then not again until Feb. 20.

Tough as the Western Conference road trips will be, the Bulls' toughest stretch (at least for now) appears to be the beginning of March. In a two-week span they'll square off against the Clippers, Wizards, Thunder and Grizzlies at home, and the Pacers, Thunder, Hornets and Spurs on the road. Not including a March 11 game in Philadelphia, that's eight straight playoff opponents in a 15-day span.

Oct. 29 at New York 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 Cleveland 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 at Minnesota 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 Orlando 6 p.m.
Nov. 5 at Milwaukee 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Philadelphia 6 p.m.
Nov. 8 Boston 7 p.m.
Nov. 10 Detroit 7 p.m.
Nov. 13 at Toronto 7 p.m.
Nov. 15 Indiana 7 p.m.
Nov. 17 at L.A. Clippers 9:30 p.m.
Nov. 20 at Sacramento 9:30 p.m.
Nov. 21 at Portland 9:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 at Utah 8 p.m.
Nov. 25 at Denver 8 p.m.
Nov. 28 at Boston 12 p.m.
Nov. 30 at Brooklyn 2 p.m.
Dec. 2 Dallas 7 p.m.
Dec. 3 at Charlotte 6 p.m.
Dec. 6 Golden State 7 p.m.
Dec. 10 Brooklyn 7 p.m.
Dec. 12 Portland 6 p.m.
Dec. 14 at Miami 5 p.m.
Dec. 15 at Atlanta 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 18 New York 7 p.m.
Dec. 19 at Memphis 7 p.m.
Dec. 22 Toronto 7 p.m.
Dec. 23 at Washington 6 p.m.
Dec. 25 L.A. Lakers 7 p.m.
Dec. 27 New Orleans 7 p.m.
Dec. 29 at Indiana 6 p.m.
Dec. 30 Brooklyn 7 p.m.
Jan. 1 Denver 7 p.m.
Jan. 3 Boston 7 p.m.
Jan. 5 Houston 7 p.m.
Jan. 7 Utah 7 p.m.
Jan. 9 at Washington 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 Milwaukee 7 p.m.
Jan. 12 Orlando 7 p.m.
Jan. 14 Washington 7 p.m.
Jan. 16 at Boston 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 Atlanta 7 p.m.
Jan. 19 at Cleveland 7 p.m.
Jan. 22 San Antonio 7 p.m.
Jan. 23 at Dallas 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 Miami 12 p.m.
Jan. 27 at Golden State 9:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 at L.A. Lakers 9:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Phoenix 9:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Houston 7 p.m.
Feb. 7 at New Orleans 6 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Orlando 5 p.m.
Feb. 10 Sacramento 7 p.m.
Feb. 12 Cleveland 7 p.m.
Feb. 20 at Detroit 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 Phoenix 7 p.m.
Feb. 23 Milwaukee 7 p.m.
Feb. 25 Charlotte 7 p.m.
Feb. 27 Minnesota 7 p.m.
March 1 L.A. Clippers 12 p.m.
March 3 Washington 7 p.m.
March 5 Oklahoma City 7 p.m.
March 6 at Indiana 6 p.m.
March 8 at San Antonio 12 p.m.
March 9 Memphis 7 p.m.
March 11 at Philadelphia 6 p.m.
March 13 at Charlotte 6 p.m.
March 15 at Oklahoma City 12 p.m.
March 18 Indiana 7 p.m.
March 20 Toronto 7 p.m.
March 21 at Detroit 6:30 p.m.
March 23 Charlotte 7 p.m.
March 25 at Toronto 6:30 p.m.
March 28 New York 7 p.m.
April 1 at Milwaukee 7 p.m.
April 3 Detroit 7 p.m.
April 5 at Cleveland 2:30 p.m.
April 8 at Orlando 6 p.m.
April 9 at Miami 7 p.m.
April 11 Philadelphia 7 p.m.
April 13 at Brooklyn 6:30 p.m.
April 15 Atlanta 7 p.m.