Jabari Parker

Ten dates to circle on the Bulls' 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Ten dates to circle on the Bulls' 2018-19 schedule

The Bulls' 2018-19 schedule came out Friday afternoon. You can check out the 82-game slate. But we're also keying in on 10 specific dates that Bulls fans will want to circle on their calendars.

1. LeBron brings Hollywood to the Windy City (vs. LAL, March 12)

The Bulls will play LeBron James and the Lakers in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, but there's no atmosphere like when The King comes to town. Add in the fact that the Lakers have the league's largest fan base and you understand why this one is going to be massive. After seeing James four times a year the last four seasons, the Bulls will only get two shots at James this season. Seeing as this will be his only trip to Chicago, it's easily the biggest game of the year.

2. The TimberBulls reunion, pt. II (vs. MIN, Dec. 26)

Some of the buzz will be gone considering Tom Thibodeau, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson came to Chicago last season. But this time around, a day after Christmas, they'll have Derrick Rose with them (and maybe even Joakim Noah). That's going to create some serious nostalgia at the United Center. And don't forget, this will always loom large as a big game for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine after it was Thibodeau who sent them packing in exchange for Butler.

3. Jabari Parker returns to his favorite suburb (at MIL, Nov. 16)

Jabari Parker said all the right things upon leaving Milwaukee and joining his hometown Bulls. But you can bet there's some real animosity between the two and he'll want to get his revenge on when they clash for the first of four meetings. It'll also be the first matchup between the Bulls and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who looks ready to make a real run at MVP. Considering it's also a division game, every Bulls-Bucks game will be a big one this season. 

4. The Warriors' dynasty makes an early stop in CHI (vs. GSW, Oct. 29)

Three titles in four years makes the Warriors a dynasty. Sorry, 90s Bulls fans. The good - and we use that term lightly - news is that DeMarcus Cousins will be sidelined for this early-season affair. And the even better news it that the Bulls have some recent success against the Warriors: since the start of the 2012-13 season the Bulls have gone 5-7 against Steph and co. Hey, it's something.

5. The Prospects vs. The Process (at PHI, Oct. 18)

This may be a few years away from becoming a real rivalry, but the finished process of the Sixers' rebuild will square off against the Bulls' blossoming one to begin the year. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid terrorized the Bulls last season, but a healthy core and the rookie additions plus Jabari Parker should even out these contests. It'll be a good test to open the year for Fred Hoiberg's group.

6. Anthony Davis' (un)official recruiting visit (vs. NOP, Feb. 6)

Hey, Anthony! Look at all this great young talent! OK, Davis can't become a free agent until 2020 and it would be surprising if he didn't sign a super-max deal with the Pelicans. But we can dream. It's a hometown return for the Prospectives alum, and we can't help but think he'll be keeping an eye on the Bulls' young core...just in case he gets the itch to pull a Jabari Parker and come on home. Let us dream.

7. Wendell Carter Jr. gets to show Marvin Bagley III what he can do (vs. SAC, Dec. 10)

Wendell Carter Jr. took a back seat at Duke when Marvin Bagley III arrived as a late addition to the 2018 class. Both Bagley and Carter showed promise in their respective Summer League performances, but now the two will go head-to-head for the first time outside of Duke practices. You can bet Carter will be playing with an added chip on his shoulder after Bagley received all the accolades in Durham last season.

8. The Unicorn vs. The Finnisher...with potential playoff implications (at NYK/vs. NYK, Apr. 1/9)

Kristaps Porzingis is recovering from ACL surgery, so he wont be ready for the teams' first matchup on Nov. 5. But the teams will play twice in the regular season's final two weeks, and the Knicks and Bulls could very well be in the playoff hunt for the final few spots. Porzingis and Markkanen are two of the most unique players in the game, and this could be a battle of big-city bigs for a long time to come. And for the first time it could have playoff implications.

9. David Nwaba revenge game? (at CLE, Dec. 23)

OK, it doesn't sound as good written out as it did in our heads. But still, Nwaba was thought to be a piece of the Bulls' future after an impressive first season in Chicago. Instead the Bulls opted to go with Jabari Parker (and Antonio Blakeney), letting the hounding defender leave for a division rival in Cleveland. You can bet points on the wing will be hard to come by when Nwaba gets his chance to lock up the Bulls' backcourt.

10. Toe-to-toe with the East's best (at BOS, Nov. 14)

The Bulls will have three meetings against the presumed top team in the East. The first of these matchups takes place in Boston, and it'll be against a Celtics team that's fully healthy for the first time since last year's Opening Night, when Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury that cost him the entire regular season. Another tough matchup for the Bulls, but a good barometer for where they are early in the season.

Bulls will open 2018-19 season against Joel Embiid and the Sixers

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Bulls will open 2018-19 season against Joel Embiid and the Sixers

It's The Prospects vs. The Process.

The NBA announced Wednesday afternoon that the Bulls will begin their 2018-19 campaign in the City of Brotherly Love against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18.

It'll be a difficult task for Fred Hoiberg's group as they begin Year 2 of their rebuild, facing a 52-win Sixers team that touts an MVP candidate in Joel Embiid and the reigning Rookie of the Year in Ben Simmons.

It's also the return of the #TNTBulls. In one of the most peculiar and unlikely streaks in the NBA, the Bulls have won 20 straight home games on TNT.  So while this won't necessarily count, the Bulls still enjoy playing on the network.

A year ago the Bulls took one of three contests against the Sixers, though both Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine missed one of those three games. The highlight of last year's matchups between the two teams was Bobby Portis scoring a career-best 38 points and nearly hitting a game-winner in a 116-115 loss.

The Bulls bring back much of last year's team, with the addition of rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, as well as Chicago native Jabari Parker.

They'll be tasked with slowing down Simmons, who averaged a triple-double in those three games a year ago (23.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 11.7 assists). Embiid appeared in just two games against the Bulls (the first two of his career), averaging 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

It won't be an easy tak for the Bulls, as Philadelphis went 30-11 at home last season, tied for the fifth best home record in the league.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Vegas betting against the Bulls next season

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Vegas betting against the Bulls next season

On the latest Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill discuss how Jabari Parker’s arrival will impact the Bulls’ rotation, and the pressure Parker will face in playing for his hometown team. Plus, the guys go through the NBA over-under win totals posted by the Westgate sports book. Are the Bulls a lock to go over 27.5 wins, and which other teams were dealt a bad hand by the Vegas oddsmakers?

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: