The Chicago Bulls are hoping to end their one-year drought and return to the NBA Playoffs. After initially rebuilding the roster, management opted to bring in Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade in free agency. The veteran guards put the team back in “win now” mode. Their upcoming schedule has a slew of Eastern Conference opponents, as confirmed by ESPN.
Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets
The fun match-up will be between the twin centers, Robyn Lopez and Brook Lopez. At point guard, Rajon Rondo and Jeremy Lin could provide some entertainment as well. However, the key match-ups will be at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler will attempt to dominate Bojan Bogdanovic and Rondae Hollis Jefferson. If they can slow down Wade and Butler, then the Brooklyn Nets will have a chance of winning.
Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics
This should be quite the perimeter battle between the six starters. Rajon Rondo is still good enough of a defender to slow down Isaiah Thomas. Avery Bradley is one of the better defenders on the Boston Celtics roster, so he will want to prove that against Dwyane Wade. Jae Crowder is an underrated defender, and he will have his hands full with Jimmy Butler. The key match-up could be how dominant Al Horford can be against Robyn Lopez, a center that prefers to stay inside.
Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks
Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are good friends, but they are also both competitive guys that are trying to catch up to their other good friend, LeBron James. Wade is going to have to be able to produce offensively against a good defender in Courtney Lee. Rajon Rondo could be motivated by trying to show the home crowd that he is a better option than Derrick Rose, the man that he replaced at the point guard position. Robyn Lopez and Joakim Noah, the centers that swapped places, might be extra motivated as well.
Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers
Last season, Paul George proved to the NBA that he was able to come back from a gruesome leg injury. Not only did he return, but the 6-foot-8 small forward went neck and neck with San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard for the title of “best two way player.” Jimmy Butler is in the argument as well, so his match-up against George will be the key in determining which team gets the win. Monta Ellis is not a strong defender, so Dwyane Wade could put up big numbers here.
Chicago Bulls vs Orlando Magic
When you have a veteran back court like Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, there is always a concern when they are going up against a young and athletic team like the Orlando Magic. The Chicago Bulls are also going up against good shot blockers in Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka. That will make it a bit harder for Rondo, Wade, and Jimmy Butler. The Bulls trio love to attack the basket, so that should be an interesting battle. Aaron Gordon is still trying to prove to NBA fans that he can do more than dunk the ball. Going to battle with Butler is a good opportunity for him.
Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks
Though he may be past his peak as a defender and shot blocker, Dwight Howard can still be quite effective when he is engaged. That usually means giving him scoring opportunities in the low post, something that Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer might be willing to do because the expected defender at center for the Chicago Bulls is Robyn Lopez. Howard’s defense will certainly be needed to help prevent Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler from attacking the basket at will.
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