You can hear the music now. The sound of elephants marching, clowns dancing, and popcorn popping. Sounds glorious if you're a child, but not if you're a Chicago Bull.
These are the sounds of the annual circus that moves into Chicago around Thanksgiving, sending the Bulls on a Western Conference road trip for two weeks.
In recent years, this trip has been a disaster for the young Bulls.
That's why it was crucial for them to be above water before taking the plunge.
Coming off big home wins against the lowly Mavericks and the revived Pacers, the Bulls stand at 5-5. Not bad for a team who has already had their fare share of injuries.
You can attribute this .500 record, in part, to Derrick Rose and his outstanding play. He has lived up to the hype, becoming the first Chicago rookie since MJ, of course, to score in double figures in his first 10 games.
Rose is averaging 18.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. If he keeps going at this pace, he'll become the first rookie since LeBron James to average at least 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game.
The first challenge on his first ever circus trip—Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
The Bulls will need to rely on Rose even more against a very stingy Lakers defense. The Lakers come into the game with the second best defense, holding opponents to 89 points per game.
Not only will the pressure be on Rose, but Ben Gordon will need to provide the offensive firepower that he has shown early on in the season.
In his last four games, Gordon is averaging 25.5 points. However, he has struggled against the Lakers on the road, averaging only 12.5 PPG on just 37.3 percent shooting.
After L.A., the trip doesn't get any easier for the Bulls, as they travel to Portland to face Greg Oden and the Blazers.
Following that, they go to Golden State, in a very winnable game, then head to Denver, Utah, San Antonio, and Philadelphia.
If somehow the Bulls can manage to win three games, they would sit at 8-9 and be in good shape in the Eastern Conference. Considering the injuries early on, especially to Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls should be pleased to be in that position.
So, it comes down to this simple question: can the Bulls rise up and put their past circus woes behind them or will they again fall victim to Western supremacy?