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|The Bulls will open their season against Kobe Bryant's Lakers on Christmas Day.|
The Bulls' schedule is out and it isn’t all that easy. Let's take a look at the highlights:
The five most anticipated games
1. Bulls at Lakers, Dec. 25
This is the NBA's showcase game on Christmas Day. Derrick Rose versus Kobe Bryant. This contest is the only matchup between the Bulls and Lakers this season.
2. Grizzlies at Bulls, Jan. 1
The Bulls' home opener features a very interesting matchup between two of the league's youngest and most exciting teams. Memphis guard O.J. Mayo is a player the Bulls have been rumored to be interested in.
3. Bulls at Celtics, Jan. 13
The Bulls didn't win a game in Boston last season. Will that change this time around against Kevin Garnett & Co.?
4. Bulls at Heat, Jan. 29
The first of four meetings between the two teams that squared off in the Eastern Conference finals.
5. Mavs at Bulls, April 19
A late-season tilt with the defending NBA champions in Dallas could serve as a playoff tune-up for Derrick Rose & Co.
Toughest stretch of games
Jan. 29-Feb. 12:The Bulls will embark on a nine-game road trip that starts in Miami and ends in Boston. This will be one of the toughest stretches in recent memory for a Bulls team that figures to be exhausted after the first week, given it'll play four games in the first five nights.
Easiest stretch of games
Most of January: After a short three-game trip to Detroit, Orlando and Atlanta, the Bulls begin what figures to be their most relaxed portion of the schedule. Starting with a home game against the Pistons on Jan. 9, the Bulls will go on the road only four times until a Jan. 29 showdown at Miami. In the meantime, they face a large chunk of teams that didn't qualify for the playoffs, including Washington, Toronto, Cleveland and New Jersey just to name a few.
The only Western Conference teams the Bulls will see twice are Sacramento, Memphis, New Orleans. Every other Western Conference team they will see only once. The Bulls play the Heat and Celtics four times. They'll see the Magic three times.
Every NBA team will have room to complain about the condensed schedule, but the nine-game road trip is brutal for the Bulls. Luckily for Thibodeau and & Co., they have only one back-to-back-to-back stretch Jan. 9, 10 and 11 home against the Pistons, at Minnesota and back home against the Wizards.
The Bulls will play 33 home games and 33 away games. Although it's hard to look too far ahead with this schedule, the Bulls should be able to at least catch their breath at the end of April. They'll have three days off before a back-to-back to finish the season at Indiana and then home against Cleveland.
The Bulls will play 17 pairs of back-to-back games and one set of back-to-back-to-back games.