CHICAGO — The Bulls announced Tuesday that they will open the 2011-12
season on the road Nov. 1 against the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. It will be the first of 29 Bulls games scheduled to be
televised nationally, including a Christmas Day road game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now all the Bulls and the 29 other NBA teams need is a season, which is an ugly uncertainty right now. Team owners locked out the players when the collective-bargaining agreement expired June 30, and a new season won’t start until a new labor deal is reached.
Some predict that next season will start late, if at all. In the last lockout, which occurred after the Bulls won their sixth NBA title in 1998, the first 32 games of the season were wiped out.
The Bulls would go into next season coming off the best regular-season record in the NBA in 2010-11 (62-20). They defeated the Indiana Pacers in five games and the Hawks in six in the first two playoff rounds before losing to the Miami Heat in five games in the Eastern Conference finals. The Mavericks then beat the Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.
The Bulls are scheduled to play the Heat four times next season, but they will have to wait until
Jan. 19 — their 38th game — for the first one. The Bulls’ two home games against the Heat are March 14 and April 12.
The Boston Celtics come to the United Center on Feb. 16 and
April 5, and Kobe Bryant will bring the Lakers to town March 8.
On the surface, it’s a challenging schedule. The Bulls play 10 of their first 14 games, including eight in a row, on the road. They also will play 19 pairs of back-to-back games (11 home-and-away, seven on the road and one at home).