Bulls Lead

Predicting Chicago’s Season Month by Month

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The NBA released the Chicago Bulls 2019-2020 regular season schedule last Monday. For hoops fans desperate for basketball info, any news is good news.

 

 

Regular Season Record Predictions

Before the recent schedule release, most league analysts and sports betting sites predicted the Bulls to win between 27-33 games. There are some factors (healthrestmonthly home-road scheduling) that one should consider.

Health is a variable no one can accurately predict with any certainty.

Ed Küpfer has documented how the Bulls will have the most significant rest advantage in the league. This advantage is partly due to traveling the third-fewest miles. 

For this article, I tackle the monthly home-road scheduling factor. A recent article by Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report has the team winning 36 games, which was equal to my projection. Now that I’ve had a chance to review and analyze the new schedule, here’s my month-by-month win prediction and win-total forecast. I’ll consider and let you decide for yourself. 

 

Month-by-Month Win Totals

October: (5 Games – 1 Home, 4 Road)

The Bulls schedule begins against the Charlotte Hornets on October 23, and Chicago plays a quick five games in eight days. They play four of their five games on the road during this short month. However, the level of competition – except for the defending NBA Champion Toronto Raptors – is mostly made up of lottery-projected teams. This fact makes it a possibility that the Bulls could start hot from the jump and potentially develop some positive momentum early in the season.

Expect fewer tricks and an early treat.  Prediction: 4-1

November: (15 Games – 9 Home, 6 Road)

The Bulls play against the Lakers, Rockets, Nets in addition to the Bucks, Pistons, and Trailblazers twice. The month of November will show us exactly how tough this Bulls team is. Some of the best competition in the league will test Chicago. In this stretch, they play five Central Division matchups and ten games against Eastern Conference opponents. Thankfully, the seasons’ annual circus road trip – which occurs during the Thanksgiving holiday week – is much shorter (3 games) than usual. This month may serve as an early success predictor.

Let’s be grateful and give thanks if the team can make it through the month healthy.  Prediction: 4-11

December: (14 Games – 8 Home, 6 Road)

December marks the second consecutive month where the Bulls play more home games, including an early stretch where they play six of their first seven games at the UC. However, it also means they will have to play five games in seven nights, including two back-to-backs. This stretch may not precisely be the early Christmas gift they wanted. Then again, playing six games against opponents predicted to have a losing record might help too. The team also gets a four-day Christmas break where they can stay home, rest up and watch the NBA’s elite teams face off on national TV.

Tis the season to be jolly or is it folly?  Prediction: 6-8

January: (17 Games – 8 Home, 9 Road)

The Bulls top New Years’ resolution is to have a winning month, but that likely won’t happen in January. As you can see in the chart below (created by Ed Küpfer), the Bulls’ Pre All-Star Break strength of schedule substantially increases after Christmas. This challenge is from playing opponents with a win% of nearly 52. The team’s before-Christmas strength of schedule (SOS) ranked near the bottom. However, the season for giving is all over. Bulls opponents will be receiving much more than they give back.

Happy New Year!?  Prediction: 6-11

February: (9 Games – 5 Home, 4 Road)

The shortest month of the year brings the fewest number of games and perhaps some love from the fans and media. The Bulls will host the 2019-2020 NBA All-Star game festivities in Chicago during Valentine’s Day weekend (February 14-16) and hope to have an All-Star player or two. As for the competition, the team will play a total of nine games against league bottom feeders like the Hornets, Suns, Knicks, and Wizards (twice). Consider how well Chicago played in February after the Otto Porter Jr. trade last season. Perhaps they can harness that same type of energy from All-Star game hype and recapture that success. At least we hope so.

When the stars align, the Bulls will shine.  Prediction: 6-3

March: (15 Games – 8 Home, 7 Road)

After riding the February All-Star hype and hot streak, the month of March comes in like a lion and devours the young Bulls like a lamb. Unfortunately, the team will have to play several East opponents competing for a playoff spot – with games against contenders such as the Nets, Magic and Heat. Western Conference foes such as the Spurs, RocketsNuggets, and Jazz, will also be competing for playoff position and will undoubtedly challenge the Bulls. March represents the dog days of both the NBA season and Chicago’s winter and a frigid reality sets in for this team.

Beware the Ides of March.  Prediction: 5-10

April: (7 Games – 2 Home, 5 Road)

April carries only seven games. However, it happens to represent the most difficult strength of schedule month on the regular-season calendar. Multiple teams are jockeying for playoff seeding, including the Nuggets, Nets, Celtics and both LA teams. Expect the Bulls to be resting their best players and be in full tank mode. (Is that even a concept anymore?) Also if the Bulls are unexpectedly close to a playoff bid, the beginning to this brutal month will effectively turn any playoff dream into a post-season fantasy. (Consider Chicago will play five of their final seven games on the road.)

April showers bring May vacation plans.  Prediction: 2-5

Regular Season Win-Total Review & Franchise Preview

I project the Bulls to win a total of 33 games. It still may be possible for the Bulls to surprise us and win more games than predicted. However, it’s much more likely they need experience and significant player development before they can be considered a serious contender in the East.

This timeline happens to coincide with the 2021-2022 season, which is expected to be the next big free-agent offseason. The Bulls franchise will eventually need to convince a superstar to acknowledge the team’s potential, trade for a superstar or develop one from the current roster. Regardless of what happens in the future, a new season starts this October, and the Bulls have no more time to lose.

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About Ben Rodriguez

NBA league analyst and Chicago Bulls basketball writer. A true Bulls fan since the Jordan era and long after.

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