With the new schedule released, it's time to circle your calendars and start looking forward to the best the NBA has to offer.
For the Chicago Bulls, it's an exciting time as the team has been busy this offseason, acquiring what they hope will be key pieces to an Eastern Conference power.
With key players already on the roster in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng, the Bulls added veteran help in Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, and others to compete with the likes of the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, and now, the Miami Heat.
The Bulls were 41-41 last season, but with the recent moves, there's optimism that the Bulls can get 50-plus wins next season and position themselves for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
That would still mean eventual series with the Magic, Celtics, or Heat, but it would be tremendous progress for an organization that has had little to cheer for since His Airness left town over 12 years ago.
With the 2010-11 schedule officially on record, let's take a glance at seven can't-miss games for the Chicago Bulls.
October 27 @ Oklahoma City
Is there a better way to open a season?
The Bulls get a chance at one of the NBA's best young teams and can make a huge statement to the NBA world right off the bat.
The Thunder have a deadly trio in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green and gave the Los Angeles Lakers fits last season before bowing out to them in the postseason.
The Bulls will unveil their new bodies and new head coach Tom Thibodeau can get to work right away on improving the Bulls' record on the road over the last decade (their 17-24 road record last season actually ranks among the best over the last decade or so).
Derrick Rose vs. Kevin Durant.
They won't be guarding each other, but this is an opportunity to see two of the game's great young stars on the court at the same time.
November 5 @ Boston
Boston already had a Big Three in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, but they've added a Plump Pair in centers Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal, to go with budding star point guard Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics appeared to be on their last legs before a deep playoff run last season that lasted seven NBA Finals games, and they are clearly attempting to strike while the iron's hot with the additions of the O'Neal centers.
In a league with Dwight Howard, it makes sense to get as many big bodies on your bench as possible.
Until Boston loses a step, they will remain a Finals contender out of the Eastern Conference; the Bulls can send a message by taking it to them in their second road game of the season.
Derrick Rose vs. Rajon Rondo and Boston's Bigs vs. the Bulls' Bigs
The Rose/Rondo matchup is obviously intriguing and will be one of the more exciting matchups for the next dozen years because of each player's explosive dribble-drive ability and improving outside shooting games.
The old-school NBA fans will fall in love with the big bodies going at it in the Garden this night, however, as Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Carlos Boozer will go head-to-head with both O'Neals, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, and Kendrick Perkins.
Expect to see some blood and bruises after this one.
December 1 vs. Orlando
The Bulls get the Magic four days after their annual circus trip (they'll be on the road from November 16-27), and if this circus trip is anything like previous ones (in which the Bulls lost most games), they'll need to get back in the win column in a hurry.
It won't be easy licking their wounds with Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, and Rashard Lewis in town, but no one feels bad for you in the NBA.
The Bulls also need this to display how serious they are about being top contenders in the East.
This is their first home game against a top Eastern Conference team; they don't want to lay a goose-egg.
Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer defending the Magic's three-point assassins.
The Magic love the three-ball, but the Bulls will need to focus on limiting J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis, and company from getting off clean looks.
Both Korver and Brewer have 6'7" frames to work with, so it'll be a matter of fighting through ball-screens and playing smart, disciplined hoops.
December 28 vs. Milwaukee
The Bucks represent the biggest obstacle for the Bulls in the Central Division and this is their first crack at them.
The Bucks impressed last year with Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings getting behind the steering wheel, while Michael Redd suffered another injury-plagued season.
If Redd's health returns, this is a dangerous Bucks team.
The Bulls likely have too much speed and size for Milwaukee, but we won't know until December 28.
Derrick Rose vs. Brandon Jennings
Both guards can score, but it'll be the player that gets his teammates involved the most that will win this game, and perhaps the Central Division as well.
January 15 vs. Miami
What can I say about this game?
The game of the year for Bulls fans will be sold-out in minutes, and for good reason.
LCD (LeBron, Chris, Dwyane) make their first visit to Chicago's LSD (Lakeshore Drive), and the road to an Eastern Conference Championship will make a pit-stop in one of these cities.
Let's see if the Heat are on pace to surpass the Bulls' record 72 wins at this point.
The Heat's Big Three vs. the United Center crowd.
The Heat will play 41 road games this season, and each one will pit thousands of fans vs. three men; this is the Bulls' chance to show James, Wade, and Bosh what they missed out on.
March 22 @ Atlanta
Perhaps lost in the shuffle, the Hawks will again compete for a top-four seed in the East.
They brought back All-Star Joe Johnson (for a hefty price), and still have key pieces in place in Al Horford and Jamal Crawford.
If the top three in the east are Miami, Orlando, and Boston, then it's probably a battle between the Bulls and Hawks for home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Luol Deng vs. Joe Johnson.
Johnson could have been a Bull, but opted to go with the bigger contract in Atlanta instead.
Deng needs to shut him down and make him think twice about his offseason decisions.
April 10 @ Orlando
It's the Bulls' last game vs. an Eastern Conference power, and their last big tune-up before the playoffs.
Rose, Noah, Boozer, and buds may be going after a coveted No. 4 seed, and will need this one to get there.
Orlando may be resting their players, so this could be a huge steal on the road.
Carlos Boozer vs. Dwight Howard.
If they are to meet in the playoffs, this is Boozer's last dance with Dwight for a while.
Let's hope the Bulls' biggest acquisition in years can tame Superman.
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