The Chicago Bulls finished the 2010-11 season with the best record in the league -- an incredible 62-20 mark. But that didn't much matter in the playoffs: the unheralded Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks each pushed Chicago fairly hard, and the Miami Heat walloped them in the East finals. The Bulls know they can dominate the regular season, but now they have to aim for success in the second season.
The L.A. Lakers typically know all about success in the second season; the Lakers have been strong on the regular schedule during the team's recent run of success, but L.A.'s veterans seem to crank it up another notch in the postseason. That didn't happen in 2011: Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets shaved two games off of the Lakers in the first round, and Dallas Mavericks beat them down in Round 2.
That's how these teams enter the 2011-12 season: ready for revenge. Unfortunately, the Lakers come in wounded. Kobe Bryant has been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right (shooting) wrist, and given that Kobe refuses to let things heal properly, he'll likely be dealing with it all season long. Further, the roster has been injured: Lamar Odom requested a trade after the Lakers had the audacity to consider trading him for Chris Paul. So Odom went to the Mavericks for nothing but a future second-round pick, which means that your new back-up power forward in L.A. is either Josh McRoberts or Troy Murphy, not the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
Andrew Bynum is suspended for the first four games of the season, including the Bulls' opener. Chicago ought to be playing with a full deck, as free agent pick-up Rip Hamilton will replace the waived Keith Bogans as the team's starting two-guard. The Bulls didn't have Carlos Boozer to start the 2010-11 season; imagine how much better they could be with a injury-free roster.
The game tips off at about 5 p.m. ET on Sunday on ABC. We'll have full coverage at SBNation.com.