How Tough is the Chicago Bulls 2021-22 Schedule?

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How Tough is the Chicago Bulls 2021-22 Schedule?

Chicago Bulls

After a franchise-changing free agency period this summer, I was about as hyped for the 2021-22 schedule release as I was for the Spider-man: Far From Home trailer. Which is to say, a lot. And much like the release of that trailer, once it did finally hit my Twitter timeline, I was ready for someone to take my money.

The season will start on the road against No. 1-overall pick Cade Cunningham on October 20th before the Bulls return home for Lonzo Ball to have a revenge game. The first four contests are all against squads who missed the playoffs last season, giving this new-look Chicago team a solid chance to get off on a good note before an absolute gauntlet begins at the end of the month.

Starting with a matchup against the New York Knicks on October 28th, the Bulls will rattle off 13 games against 2020-21 playoff opponents. The stint will come complete with a five-game Western Conference road trip.

However, look past this brutal stretch, and things look pretty darn decent for Zach LaVine and Co. The Bulls have the 8th-easiest strength of schedule in the league starting November 22nd. Overall, the team’s SOS is the 12th-easiest.

Here is how the top-15 shake out (from easiest to toughest), according to Positive Residual.

1. Jazz
2. Nuggets
3. Hawks
4. Nets
5. Pacers
6. Suns
7. Lakers
8. Bucks
9. 76ers
10. Mavericks
11. Heat
12. Bulls
13. Pelicans
14. Blazers
15. Grizzlies

We should not live and die by SOS rankings, but there is no denying the value in having a less taxing schedule than fellow conference opponents. The Jazz had the easiest SOS in the league last season, and they finished first in the West. Meanwhile, the Bucks and Suns had the third and fourth-easiest schedules, respectively, and I have to imagine that helped save some legs come playoff time (FWIW: Hawks had fourth and Knicks had 8th).

So how does the Bulls’ SOS compare to some of their potential East rivals? Well, the Wizards (15th-toughest), Celtics (14th-toughest), and Hornets (13th-toughest) all were dealt a tougher hand than Chicago. The Raptors were also dealt the 5th-hardest schedule while the Knicks received the 10th-hardest slate. Yippie! The Pacers, on the other hand, were given a significantly easier draw, being handed the 5th-easiest schedule. Boo!

The Bulls also check in on the better half of the “rest disadvantage” category, per Positive Residual. The team will be one of 13 to have at least 10 games where they are coming off less rest than their opponents. Another 17 teams in the league, however, will be stuck with 11 or more games where this is the case, including eight other Eastern Conference squads. What about the opposite scenario? The Bulls will join seven teams as having 11 games with a rest advantage, which happens to be the most popular amount in the league.

Similarly, as we noted when the schedule initially dropped, the team will have 14 back-to-back affairs, which seems to be the standard this upcoming season. Only four teams will play more than that mark.

For more on all these logistics, though, I recommend you go to Positive Residual. They give great insight into every team’s schedule, and they display it all in a very easily digestible manner.

Another good thing to keep in mind is we are back to 82 games this season. What this means is the Bulls will see the Bucks, Pistons, Cavaliers, and Pacers four times each. The division matters about as much as my ability to do the worm, but it can come through relatively clutch (like doing the worm at parties!) when three of a team’s four division opponents have rosters capable of missing the playoffs. No doubt, the questionable nature of the Pistons, Cavaliers, and Pacers is part of the reason why we see the Bulls have a slightly easier schedule this season.

So, yeah, all around I’d say it’s a pretty solid slate for a team hoping to end a four-season playoff drought. October 20th can’t come soon enough!

For a complete look at the 2021-22 schedule, go here.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.